Should a person called Ted Hughes become an English teacher?

The first meeting with the new member of the Carmine-Casey School English faculty.

As for Sibyl herself, she looks at Ted Hughes in the same way she looks at moern poetry: an accumulation of ecstatica that contains within it (she is sure) moments of beautiful and tragic silence.

“So,” Sibyl says, trying to catch his eye,” how have your first couple days been?”

“Rumpled,” he says, looking up suddenly at the ceiling.

“Rumpled?” Lonnie says. “How do you mean?”

“I was thinking of something,” he says putting two fingers to his lips, “as I was walking through the halls today. Something someone said about girls liking to be rumpled sometimes. A beautiful line.”

“I think I know what you mean,” Sibyl says.

“You do?” Binhammer says from the other end of the table, giving her a look.

“But,” she says, ignoring him, “I don’t remember where it’s from.”

“Played with and rumpled,” Ted says.

“I don’t know,” Binhammer interjects, authoritative and doubtful. “I think you may have just — “

“Goldsmith,” Mrs. Mayhew declares, stone-faced. “’Girls like to be played with, and rumpled a little too, sometimes.’ Oliver Goldsmith.”

“That’s it,” Ted says, smiling brightly. “A beautiful line, no?”

Sibyl does not want to look over at Binhammer. She can feel his eyes picking away at her — sharp, angry needles.

— Joshua Gaylord, Hummingbirds, p 55.


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