Vijay Seshadri, Writing Faculty

Greetings on Behalf of the Sarah Lawrence Faculty

Vijay SeshadriI'm Vijay Seshadri, and I'm going to welcome President Judd on behalf of the faculty by reading a poem. The poem is by one of our beloved faculty members who died recently, Tom Lux. He taught here from 1975 on in many, many capacities, and this is a poem about the work we do and the underlying faith we have in the work we do. And it is a laconic poem, which is typical of Tom Lux. It's called:

What I See When I Drive to Work

(Boston to New York)

On clear days it's fast black dead west sixty miles
New England blazing or granite-brown
on both side of the slide. The a dip south-
west—the sun on my left cheek now flat
on my chest, and I'm warm,
with the other citizens, driving
to work. About lunchtime

I hit Hartford (each week a honk
for Wallace Stevens) — half a day done
for the insurance clerks and I'm halfway
to work. Twenty or so miles later,
on the arc of a long dropping curve, the sun
takes a quarry's gouged-out bowl.
I like the big machines, drills

and dozers, that eat
the rock and break it down to sand — at least
more than I like the insurance industry;
and then a town's announced
by a giant Jesus' coat rack
on a rubbled hill. It overlooks
a happy, placid burg known for brass

where I never stop
for gas or sandwich. I'm driving
to work — talk radio/gun control, Squantz
Pond, lunch pail, Ruby Road, never-cross-
a-picket-line, on my way
to earn a wage: Massachusetts, Connecticut,
and now nudging into New York,

just over which border
I follow for a few miles a river
that opens to a lake
that each day this fall
is open to more and more ducks,
which makes me happy, at this point
driving to work with the rest of America,

who mostly get there before I do.
The last leg's most scenic, woodsy,
and takes me past a publishing complex,
Reader's Digest, Inc., massive buildings
on a hill, where a man someday
might reduce this poem to haiku.
I'm nearing now and exit by the exit

by the blind school — two more miles,
if I take the shortcut past some mansions,
to my office, which is
199.4 mi.
from my home. It's a lengthy motoring,
but the work is honest
and the customers human.

—Tom Lux