My I-Really-Just-Don't-Care student hands me some of his writing to read. He's typed eight single-spaced pages. I didn't assign him this project. He wrote something on his own, and he wants to meet today to talk about writing.
He gives me permission to tell you this:
It's a personal memoir about watching his brother leave for service in the Marine Corps. It's about the first letter he receives from him.
It's about the first time he sees his face again.
At one point, the student recounts the moment when he's about to see his own brother. Mid sentence, he includes in parentheses: "I've stood to type this section because I can still feel the excitement."
I can't put it down. The writing is so good, the story so profound. I'm overcome with the fact that a student has to stand up to write because the emotion is that great.
The poet Marianne Moore writes in her poem, "The Student," a line I'll never forget. She claims that a student seems "too reclusive for some things to seem to touch him--not because he has no feeling but because he has so much."
I have to remember that. I have to remember that the reclusive soul sitting before me who doesn't care about anything might actually care too much. The silence, the frown, or even the bored comment masks something underneath. Something so thrilling he has to stand up to write it.
I ask him again if I can write about him today. He says, "I really just don't care." Now I know what he means.