happy birthday, sylvia

We arrived to 6th period English class as we did most days: reluctantly, a little sleepy from lunch. We were sophomores, smart enough to be in honors but young and immature enough to still misbehave in class. It was October, and by this time we had grown accustomed to Mr. Loftin’s quirks. We barely noticed when he slipped into speaking Spanish (he was learning it in order to better communicate with some of the international students), and we rolled our eyes when he meticulously critiqued our dress code violations. After the first few times he used an old record player to play a crackling recording of Sylvia Plath reading her own poems, (including “Cut,” during which Mr. Loftin silently cut an onion and bled fake blood), we were no longer fazed by his in-class demonstrations.
On that October day, we might have even snickered when we saw that record player once again, next to a rickety chair whose legs were adorned with an old pair of women’s shoes. As Mr. Loftin announced that it was Sylvia Plath’s birthday, the fire alarm went off. We all laughed menacingly at the irony and ran outside; the 50 minutes for English class would mostly be consumed by the fire drill. Sylvia Plath’s birthday would go uncelebrated, but when I heard on the radio this morning that today was her birthday, I paused, and I fondly remembered Mr. Loftin’s English class, as I often do.

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