The English professor looked like a smaller version of David Crosby. Like if you let the air out of David Crosby, that’s what he’d look like. Except they let too much out of his face, to where the cheekbones looked jagged and taut. But the eyes were the same: soulful, deep and far away. Crazy cat’s eye marbles. And it was a handlebar mustache that must have been the same he’d started in the 1960s and kept all that time, a good 25 years, graying but still the same — wiry and tough like a brush you’d use on a grill.
And we were there to learn poetry two times a week which was ridiculous the professor said: he strode into class with a western style hat, a suede leather jacket that was frilly with designs on it and chocolate-colored, southwest jewelry on his belt buckle, around the wrists.
I think about him at this time of year because there’s always that first really nice spring day it gets into the 70s, when everyone rolls their car windows down and turns their car stereos up. It was like that in his class one afternoon, when all the dorm windows opened and the blankets came out on the lawns and people started sunning themselves and fanning their hair out.
We were just starting class when a rock song came by from a nearby car and the music was so loud it became like this new reality, like a black hole where gravity goes backwards or something and everything bends to some new, immutable force. The professor was talking but visibly distracted by it, getting pulled away by the song, to where he just broke out of character at once and threw his hands up and said, Oh how can I compete…with the masters?
He was fumbling for the name, fingering the air for it, and one of my classmates blurted Led Zeppelin!, and he said, of course: Led Zeppelin.
And he cocked one of his hips out like Jimmy Page and threw his head back and said we should all just go home now, there’s no need for any of us to be here today. And that seemed right somehow: yes! This class we’d paid for (or our parents had), we don’t need on such a day as this. The real poetry is out there, people: Go, Be.
We up and left and went about our days and he gathered his things, put his hat on and gave me a smirk that said I get you.
And I don’t remember his name but I imagine him on days like this when I play Led Zeppelin in my car with the sun roof open, when I’m removed for a moment and my senses return with the season and it all just happens like that, one day.