Substitute Teacher
You lived in the city
you worked as a substitute teacher
it was before I knew you
but not before I knew you’d exist
you thought you’d try harder
your self-esteem became some strange creature
that withered a little
every time you tried to resist

The children were cruel
but their cruelty was never unnatural
the walls of the school
were quite silent but sometimes they cried
I wanted to ask you for wisdom
was afraid of your answer
I wanted to ask you to love me
then wait for your reply

You lived in the city
you worked as a substitute teacher
I wasn’t your student
but I treated you badly as well
it’s the way I show interest
then just as quickly run for cover
I brought my neurosis
it’s all I brought for show and tell

Yet you seem undamaged
I wonder, can anything hurt you
the principals office
is both a place for blame and fear
was it only last year
that you claimed you would finally forgive me
was it only last month
that we understood what had occurred

You lived in the city
you worked as a substitute teacher
you withered a little
but on the whole you weathered it well
now I sing songs for a living
you always said: be patient
the future might still be forgiving
it’s so hard to tell

If the blackboard was your palette
and the children were your paintings
if the dizzy spells have vanished
along with the tears and fainting
if you now work in an office
and work only for the money
if your altruism has faltered
and the world now seems less sunny
then I’ll try to sing this song
just to remember when I first noticed
how you tried to make a difference
and were half-destroyed in the process
and though I never really helped much
and perhaps deeply hurt you
and the children are grown up now
and have tried hard to desert you
still the spark it exists somewhere
nothing ever truly vanishes
the sailors will return one day
will return from their banishment
Guitar and Voice: Jacob Wren
Recording: Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (hotel2tango)