INT. CLASSROOM – DAY
PROFESSOR MARVEL captivates his literature class at Dewey Women’s College with his intense reading of Sharon’s Olds’s poem “True Love.”
In the middle of the night, when we get up
after making love, we look at each other in
complete friendship, we know so fully
what the other has been doing. Bound to each other
like mountaineers coming down from a mountain,
bound with the tie of the delivery-room,
we wander down the hall to the bathroom, I can
hardly walk, I hobble through the granular
shadowless air, I know where you are
with my eyes closed, we are bound to each other
with huge invisible threads, our sexes
muted, exhausted, crushed, the whole
body a sex—surely this
is the most blessed time of my life,
our children asleep in their beds, each fate
like a vein of abiding mineral
not discovered yet. I sit
on the toilet in the night, you are somewhere in the room,
I open the window and snow has fallen in a
steep drift, against the pane, I
look up, into it,
a wall of cold crystals, silent
and glistening, I quietly call to you
and you come and hold my hand and I say
I cannot see beyond it. I cannot see beyond it.
When he’s done, the handsome, fortyish black man waits patiently for responses from his majority young white women students who remain speechless.
(continuing) So, what kind of “love poem” lands its two lovers on the toilet?
They laugh and smile but don’t answer the question.
(continuing) Is that it, you start by ‘making love’ and end up in the crapper together?
Again, they laugh and smile but still don’t answer the question.
(continuing) Well, who can come into the bathroom when you’re on the toilet?
More awkward silence.
Finally, an eager young woman named LESLYAN blurts out a response while raising her hand.
Students agree; laugh and smile.
Nobody? Not your mom or dad, sister or brother; not a family member or close friend?
Leslyan again breaks the silence.
(The students continue to agree, laugh, smile.)
Professor Marvel smiles salaciously.
Not even your lover?
The students remain hesitant but now for more ambiguous reason.
ALEYNA savors that question.
On how long he’s been your lover!
ZOE, an unusually sexy student, who appears radical with a buzz cut and exposed hairy pits and legs, offers her comment under her breath.
Professor Marvel calls her out.
I’m sorry, Zoe?
Zoe appears annoyed. She blurts out her additional response.
The poet means to suggest that the bathroom is a place of true intimacy, hence, the poem’s title, “True Love.” Yes, it’s unusual, that’s what make it such a special poem.
So it’s unusual?
(continuing) Yes, in the sense that the Dead White Males usually idealize romantic love, “you are the moon and the stars,” stupid shit like that. Olds, a mature woman poet, understands that ‘true love’ encompasses the everyday, including being in the bathroom together. (snidely) The “crapper” as you call it.
Professor Marvel smiles ironically.
And, so, do you consider this a positive depiction of romantic love? (he sweetly interrupts Zoe before she can continue) Someone besides Zoe.
AJ, one of two male students in the class, falls back confidently in his chair, crosses his legs.
I’d say so. They lovers are “bound” together.
Professor Marvels turns playfully outraged.
Like gagged and bound?
(continuing) Like “mountaineers,” one depends on the other.
How about the “delivery room,” that a good place to be bound? “Bound with the tie of the delivery room.”
MAGGIE, who appears traditionally sweet and innocent, chimes in.
They’re having a baby.
Professor Marvel, again, smiles ironically.
So why not just say, “We’re having a beautiful baby together”?
Zoe’s had enough.
Olds is using the word “bound” ambiguously. While they are having their beautiful baby together, it’s hell for the woman in the delivery room. Being bound is a good and bad thing.
While Professor Marvels finds Zoe, the sexy beast, charming, she appears to despise him.
(continuing) And we’re out of time!
Professor Marvel and Zoe’s classmates suddenly become aware of exceeding the class time.
Professor Marvel yells after the students as they scurry out.
Please close read the poem for homework. Specifically examine all of Olds’s uses of the word bound and be able to tell me about her use of juxtaposition at the end. What is true love really about?
As the students continue to leave, Professor Marvel catches sight of a former student, JAX, making his way through the crowd, leading in his stunningly beautiful friend, LAYLA.
(As Professor Marvel’s students continue to leave, several notice and appear to whisper about Layla.)
Professor Marvel turns noticeably excited, but before he can greet Jax and Layla, AJ shoves a paper at him.
Professor, this is the revision you asked for. (trying to get Professor Marvel’s attention) You said I should turn it in today.
Professor Marvel remains distracted by Jax and Layla, who appears nearly angelic draped in soft and flowy white; her bright face powdered with silver glitter.
(continuing) And you forgot to collect today’s homework.
AJ pushes the papers onto the absentminded professor who finally acknowledges him.
Thank you, AJ.
AJ clears out making way for Jax and Layla.
Professor Marvel welcomes Jax with open arms.
They embrace, kissing on each other on both cheeks, European style.
What are you upto?
(Jax smiles ironically.)
I want you to meet someone.
Jax steps aside, presenting Layla to Professor Marvel, a game show host presenting the prize.
(continuing) This is my dear friend, Layla Devine.
Professor Marvel extends his hand, presuming a professional shake, but Layla presumes to embrace and kiss him European style, same as Jax.
(Now Jax presents Professor Marvel to Layla.)
This is my favorite straight man in the whole world!
Professor Marvel turns playfully coquettish.
Jax immediately dismisses his mocking gesture.
Professor Marvel smiles.
(continuing) I have a big favor to ask you. (turns to Layla) This girl needs a lit course to graduate, and, as usual, your class is full.
(with a flip of the hand) Say no more.
Jax turns and smiles at Layla.
I told you.
Bring the papers by my office today, after two.
Layla and Jax turn to each other, playfully celebrate.
Layla then turns suddenly serious.
Oh? But I’ll to have to miss class sometimes.
Professor Marvel playfully raises an eyebrow at Jax: What are you getting me into here?
(continuing) For work.
Professor Marvel playfully scrutinizes Layla.
Jax and Layla presume to celebrate, again, but then she, again, turns serious.
Professor Marvel smiles ironically.
I’m saving you and your classmates a little money this semester.
Layla appears not to get the joke. She appeals to Jax who gives her a look.
Thank you, Professor Marvel.
They hug and kiss again. And then Marvel does the same with Layla, again.
As they leave, Layla turns to smile once more at Professor Marvel who tries not to get caught checking out her very shapely backside.