“Nobody ever taught me what a dangling modifier was”

“Nobody ever taught me what a dangling modifier was”

She took off points
for a dangling modifier?
A dangling modifier?
What does that even mean?

I scoff in pre-acceptance disdain:
Maybe I wanted my modifier to dangle…

then in insulted indignance:
And why is she commenting on my dangling modifier anyway?

And it continues. I cannot turn away;
just like that time I saw the neighborhood dog
on the mailman’s leg.
I imagine my face mirrors Fido’s:
intense focus and a dash of definance…
Rather than move on,
I inspect meticulously each evaluative mark;
I review each sentence in my composition;
I examine each dismissive abbreviation –
each “sp.”
each “cap.”
and each “awk.”

Red ink pirouettes circles of mockery
around the words I so deftly selected
from the drop-down menu that appeared,
magically, almost supernaturally or mysteriously
See Also: mystically; enchantingly
once I simultaneously pressed the shift and f7 buttons
to reveal the digital thesaurus.

Soon I see nothing else on the paper
but rings of fire,
red burning trails of what my teacher calls formative feedback.

Everything around me is now engulfed in red circles and squiggly underlines:
mailboxes, cars, the crosswalks;
no once-trusted place is safe from the gritty derision of my English teacher’s crimson sword!
Not my childhood treehouse, not the skate park, not even the diner…
Now I am blinded by fury,
and my fury is only outweighed
by my utter confusion.
And confusion turns to self-doubt
turns to incompetence
which all lead to impotence, I’m sure…

How come no one every taught me what a dangling modifier was?
I seek comfort and solace in the family I hold so dearly:

Mom says I should have proofread.
“Nothing ever worth reading is written once.”

Drying the dishes, my sister says:
“I remember learning about grammar – don’t you?”
Her freckled face squinched up emphatically.

From inside the fridge, Dad grabs the steak.
He walks past me, muttering, “dangling modifier…”
shaking his head and chuckling as he walks out to the grill.

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