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  • Margaret D. Stetz


Updated: 3 days ago

By Margaret D. Stetz

Everything here is flammable

and I am on guard for flames.

The classroom air is windy, dry.

Desks and chairs like logs,

books piled high—


Which boy will be the pyromaniac,

gleefully spraying fuel?

Which girl the self-immolator,

silent until her crackling

and roaring begins?

Always the same roles and conflagrations,

always the danger of damage,

always the hope instead

for brilliance that smolders, flares, then steadies.

A controlled burn,

kindled, cupped, candled

into light.


Margaret D. Stetz is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware. Although she has spent most of her life teaching and writing about literature, she still finds it hard to reconcile academia with the world that she knew as a working-class child growing up in Queens, New York.

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