Former English Major Rediscovers His College Essays

The pleats of the accordion file have softened
like the folds of my neck. Rusted staples sink
into yellowed paper beds. Such Tragedy
of Recognition in Aristotle, Sophocles, Beckett
and me. A plethora of plethora’s. Ubiquitous
ubiquitous. The Compression of Time
in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – unafraid
to state the obvious, I see. And George
Tesman: A Character Study. Who is
George Tesman? And who is this
self I keep reading about? The self
does this, the self does that. We can even
Travel with the Self in Three Nineteenth-Century
British Novels. I wonder if the self who wrote
these words is different from, say,
myself? Am I the same boy under his little
desk lamp dissecting The Imagination
of Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley as if nothing
in the world, not love, not war, were more
crucial? The same boy whose own Images
of Utopia were, let’s face it, not to be found
in Johnson and Coleridge but in the professor’s
handwritten praise with that A underneath?
I wanted it then, I want it now, I guess
I learned nothing about Jouer et Jouissance
in Roland Barthes’s Le Plaisir du Texte.

Bill Hollands’ work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as RattleDIAGRAM, North American Review, and Boulevard. He was recently named a finalist for New Ohio Review’s NORward Prize and Smartish Pace’s Erskine J. Poetry Prize. He lives in Seattle with his husband and their son.