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To My 8th Grade Typing Teacher

By Paul Hostovsky

Because I am a writer who can’t write                                  

in longhand, and because my fingers                                    

are always itching for the keyboard, my silent

piano, and because writing, for me, has always been

more like making music anyway

than having anything to say,


I am writing to say thank you, Miss Statchel,

wherever you are, for teaching me how to type in the 8th grade,

back when I was a cross between

a suppurating pimple with sensory organs on it

and a stomach lurching queasily down a junior

high school hallway. You saved my life,


which sounds hyperbolic, I know, but hey,

as the bumper sticker says, Art Saves Lives,

and I think I can safely say

that typing is the one skill I learned in junior high

that has stood me in good stead, a phrase

that’s been around since the 15th century,

which is an etymological factoid as useless

as all the facts and dates and definitions


we memorized in junior high. But I remember

your classroom, Miss Statchel, a manual typewriter bolted

to every desk, and Linda Farrell sitting demurely

in the desk next to mine. I might have

fallen in love with her if I didn’t

fall in love with typing first: a quirky, QWERTY

love of all the letters, and all the words,

with lots of touching with all my fingers,

except the thumbs–the right thumb making space

while the fingers made time with the letters,


the left thumb hovering over everything, looking on. I wonder

about that left thumb, why its fate is to be forever

left out, left over, like a maiden aunt, perhaps a little

like you, Miss Statchel, lonely, rigid, watchful, chaperoning

the fingers as they make love to the letters

and the words–yet never joining in the joy of the consummation.


Paul Hostovsky's poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, and the Comstock Review's Muriel Craft Bailey Award. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer's Almanac, and The Georgia Poetry Circuit. He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter.


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