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  • Mary Ellen Swee

Apologia for Zoom

Professor, Sorry that on Tuesday we

barged into your life’s work – your

novel – when we showed up for lit class

on zoom. You’re right, it’s disorienting

to see faces stacked up like blocks, and

those miniscule labels for names. We

agree, it’s hard to relate to eyes peering

from caves four thousand plus miles

away and to click on unmute to speak.

But don’t blame us, Professor, that

afternoon here is two in the morning at

your summer retreat in Rome. Instead,

condemn the fineness of Rama and his

translations from classic Tamil. Accuse

your own telling of Rama’s frailness,

allergies, his fatal reaction to sleep.

Point a finger at what Rama’s poems

said she said about the thief. Like a

heron standing on millet stems, he

fished for lampreys in the running

water. Blame yourself, for revealing

that she was the thief’s lamprey, one of

many. No wonder she called herself

No One. No surprise she dissociated,

centuries ago, turning herself into a

wormlike fish. So, Professor, indict

yourself for our remote assault on your

novel. If you were less of a teacher, we

wouldn’t sign in.

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