A Rock Song

This post is written by member Galen Leonhardy.

Dedicated to my colleague, friend, and mentor …

The Geologist, R. H.

Well, it’s been
a rocky road, my friend.
More than once,
I thought
this semester might never end,
that it was moving glacially—carrying us
along in unstoppable force,
eroding what once we thought
such stable mountains,
and leaving us, like erratics,
cut from places
we once knew and
awkwardly spaced unintendedly.
So here we are now,
me burped from the ground,
a kind of bellowing cow
pie bomb,
and you
an acasta gneiss
grabbed up,
pulled asunder,
and now newly left,
a rock
head adrift,
the till surrounding us,
and nothing looking anything
like what once
we were a part.
But behold,
for the terminal moraine
is not yet reached,
nor is it seen
from where we’ve both been placed,
and you will outlast
those smaller chunks of lesser stuff
and multitudes of similar sands,
though the erosion will test you too.
From now to that point
yet beyond our mere mortal grasp,
though still mundane
and, therefore, undeniably
now a geologic sant,
I tell you this, my friend:
those shaping forces,
the elements
and whatever else
the Green Spark makes magic,
will undo what waste
now surrounds you.
Those lesser chunks,
those stones, will dwindle unto gravels
unto sands
unto sandy-silty loams.
There will be tuffs
of grass at first,
but, in the just flicker
of a cosmic moment,
will there then be naught
but fertility
all about you,
exactly as it is
though you may not
yet quite see it so.
So I bellow for you now
a simple song proclaiming
what you are needing to hear and
so now it is I end
this honorary melody
with all respect
and some humility and
so it is
I sing
so now sow… and
Let it be.

Galen Leonhardy
May 8th, 2017

This semester, administrators (after hiring an East-Coast consulting firm to advise our Midwestern college and then subsequently claiming student success to be elevated when students have fewer choices) terminated Professor H’s position and the geology/earth science program, within which he was the sole faculty member. The program was self-supporting. The question being answered is, what do we say to our colleagues upon the occasions of their unjust terminations?

Galen Leonhardy teaches at a community college in Illinois. His work has appeared in CCC,TETYC, and other publications. He most enjoys spending time with his wife, Lea, and his daughters, Sarah and Hallie.


About Lu Ann McNabb

Lu Ann Maciulla McNabb is the Policy & Alliances Associate for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Lu Ann has long been an advocate for teachers, students and education. As Thomas Jefferson so eloquently said, "Education is the anvil upon which democracy is forged."

One thought on “A Rock Song

  1. I do not know all the circumstances and so cannot comment on the professor’s termination. This poetic bellow in response to the seeming injustice is not only to be lauded for its imagination and richness of language but for its courage and initiative. The author has found a way to express what he thinks and feels to his colleague; the question posed is answered. What to do about so many unjust situations remains…

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