SoDak it Hurts

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 12 2010

The Tallest

What will it be today to anchor me in this rushing time? What will it be today to seal my conscious into each layer of slanting daylight?

These things I wonder when I duck out of the back room with the flame in the corner – the room that opens the day to us from the east window. In this room, we’ve got an AutoChord electric organ. Atop it, there is a clay Asian elephant trumpeting the turn of the earth.

The three of us begin here before the stars begin to fade.

After a while, I’ll make my way down our dark hallway and the floor sinks underneath me, feeling its limits and reminding me how I’m inclined to shuffle my feet when I wear woolen socks. I walk and wonder things like: when will I wake with confidence again? I wonder this when I stand at the sink, my waste against the counter’s overhang. I pour my coffee and as smoke blooms from the brown of my mug I wonder about a time when coffee won’t be confidence anymore, it will just be coffee.

Just before we leave, I’ll walk softly into the living room and, with one hand, pull the sunrise-bloody curtains apart. With locked knees, I look for a moment at the silhouette of the water tower to the south, the bruised sky behind it. That water tower is the tallest thing in town. It stands alone. The top is wounded with messages facing all directions and rust grows like moss on the shadowed places of its face.

It must be hard to be that water tower.

But it’s something to be the tallest, isn’t it? Something to see the curve of the earth a little more. Something for your eyesight to know a little more of that bird’s flightpath. Something to feel the high winds on your face.

Something to the know loneliness the tallest one knows.

And I finish my coffee and stand a little taller. Because on some mornings, that seems to be the only thing I can do.

4 Responses

  1. Wess

    It IS something! It’s something to stay, grounded by cold steel knowledge of what only you can see.
    … way to capture it!

  2. Frank

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog from the beginning. You have wonderful insight and a gift for writing. I’d like to ask you some questions about your experience in South Dakota. I’m considering making it my 1st choice in my TFA application.

  3. reaganpugh

    Wess – thanks!

    Frank – of course, I’ll shoot you my email.

  4. Morgan

    I’m in the same boat as Frank, actually, would I be able to pick your brain as well? I was also an English major in college with a concentration in writing – graduated in May and have been taking some time off to work and examine options for my next step. I’d like to teach English at the secondary level, too, which basically leaves you as the perfect brain to pick!

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About this Blog

I taught 10th Grade English on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota between 2009 and 2011. Currently blogging at

South Dakota
High School

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