i hope it gets better for her, i said
when you told me she's been so tired
she hasn't shown up for three weeks.

and i felt sorrow for her, an ache
in my hollow chest
because i, too, have been there:
exhausted by pointless tests
and meaningless numbers;
unable to care about
everything they insist will
decide my future, my worth.

but at my sincere concern,
you laughed. it won't, you
assured me. there was something
almost cruel in the scathing words,
the casual snicker.

and i am shocked, reeling as we part ways
at the staircase. you're her teacher. your job
is to care about her
and the others like her,
who are falling apart
and need someone to hold them up.

is it any wonder we can't sleep at night?