By Susan Harlan

Photo: Susan Harlan

The syllabus must be revised. New semester, same class.

I change the classroom. Highlight the number of the section, delete it, replace it with the new section. Change the time of day. Change my office hours.

Then: the schedule. Fifteen weeks. Does the year start on a Tuesday? No, Monday. But I’m on a Wednesday/Friday, so Wednesday is the beginning.

No one wants this schedule, but it seems fine to me.

I change the dates, so January becomes September, and February becomes October. March is November, and April is December, and soon all the months are something else.

Then there are the breaks and any days off. Where are they? No more spring break, which is a week. Two classes. Thanksgiving now. November 22-26. It feels far off.

And midterms aren’t mid-March anymore. Now they’re mid-October, when the leaf-peeping starts in the mountains and the air is finally cool. There it is, the middle: October 19. Yes, that will work for the midterm (grades are due by October 23).

There are places where it is hard to fit one month into another. I move around a few texts. Lose a day, gain a day. But it works out because it has to.

The end is December 8. Done.

Then I double-check the dates and make sure they are a new season.

This can be tricky. I don’t want to lose my place and leave an April day where there should only be December. But in the end, all the days are new, mapped out in poems and plays, and I have a document that is a kind of time.



open-uri20150201-3-2kdp0_profile_largeSusan Harlan’s work has appeared in venues including The Guardian US, The Toast, Roads & Kingdoms, The Bitter SouthernerThe Morning News, Curbed, The Common, Atlas Obscura, Literary Hub, Nowhere, Public Books, Jezebel, and The Awl, and she teaches English literature at Wake Forest University. Her book Luggage will be published with the Bloomsbury series Object Lessons in March 2018.




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