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Photo courtesy of Alex Jackman

Poetry

On Being a Closeted Teacher

By Caroline Earleywine

It’s driving to school practicing what you’d say 

if they ask you outright. It’s reading the news 

of a teacher fired on her wedding day – right 


down the street. It’s smiling at the queer 

student wearing a rainbow shirt and feeling 


shame at your silence. It’s over-hearing 

the teacher next door talk about her husband, 

her family, her opinion on gay marriage: 


“I just refer to the bible on that one,” she tells 

her class. It’s the progressive teacher friend 


saying, “I just wouldn’t want my students thinking 

about my sex life,” as if the picture of her husband 

on her desk is inappropriate. It’s feeling that you 


are inappropriate. It’s students yelling “Trump train!” 

as they walk into your classroom the day after 


the election. It’s trying to keep your face neutral 

as you tell them to settle down. It’s living in the pause 

after a student says, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” 


It is holding your breath. It is living on a stage, 

worrying that one day, you’ll forget your lines.  

Caroline Earleywine teaches high school English in Central Arkansas where she tries to convince teenagers that poetry is actually cool. She earned her MFA from Queens University in Charlotte and lives in Little Rock with her wife and two dogs. Her chapbook, Lesbian Fashion Struggles, is out now with Sibling Rivalry Press.