An English In Kentucky




















February 6th 2009



   A hard winter.  Cold with ice, and the fume kiln is an igloo.  Repairs tomorrow when the west wind picks up and then the wait for a north wind.  Closer still to 'venerable' and the arrogance of this opinion makes me feel younger, a confluence of moments which could be the dawn of senile.


   I recall a math teacher who had as his favorite word 'puerile'.  Invariably it was followed by 'boy' and sometimes by 'delinquent'.  A veteran from the trenches of the First World War, he suffered from what was called 'cowardice' before it was called 'shell shock', and which these days is called something else. 


    A loud noise would send him into the darker places of memory where he would twitch and tremble in a most unfortunate manner.  Those of us who found humor in it sometimes enjoyed the math class, otherwise he struggled for our attention.




    And now on reflection I wonder whether it was physics he taught us.  The law of thermodynamics.   Experiments with gravity and pendulums. The vacuum flask.  Ball bearings and friction. All of which were recipes for accident and noise.


    His face was soft and forgiving.  In his smile there was an understanding that sometimes unnerved.  As though he could see into arrogance and come away amused.  Or perhaps he simply knew that our turn would come.




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