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Did I Miss Anything?

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

     Everything. I gave an exam worth
     40 percent of the grade for this term
     and assigned some reading due today
     on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
     worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose

     Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
     a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
     or other heavenly being appeared
     and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
     to attain divine wisdom in this life and
     the hereafter
     This is the last time the class will meet
     before we disperse to bring the good news to all people  on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

     Everything. Contained in this classroom
     is a microcosm of human experience
     assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
     This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered

     but it was one place

     And you weren’t here

—Tom Wayman

From Did I Miss Anything? Selected Poems 1973-1993, 1993
Harbour Publishing

Copyright 1993 Tom Wayman.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Harbour Publishing. Copyright 1993 by Tom Wayman. For further permissions information, contact Harbour Publishing, P.O. Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2H0 (Canada),

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Tom Wayman is the author of 17 poetry collections, including High Speed through Shoaling Water (Harbour Publishing, 2007). Wayman was born in 1945 in Hawkesbury, Ontario, a pulp mill town on the Ottawa River. He attended the University of British Columbia and the University of California at Irvine, whrere he earned an M.F.A. in English and writing.

Learn more about Tom Wayman at Canadian Poetry Online