My second grade teacher, Mrs. Noche, had a stamp with a wide-faced cat that purred: “Super!” in blue ink at the top of homework and tests. That mark was nearly as motivating as most stickers (not Hello Kitty, though).

Though I spend my days typing feedback, I would like to have a kitten stamp that mews: “Three cheers for you!” or a raccoon, offering a standing ovation, that cheers: “Bravo!”

At the same time, I could use stamps that visually remind: “Slow down.” “Trust us.” “Cut the buckets of blood and tears.” Maybe I’d use a horse, a scorpion, and a chicken as emblems, to show and tell.

Instead, I use examples.

Slow Down: “Forever Overhead,” David Foster Wallace—

Trust Us: “Child’s Play,” by Alice Munro—

No Tears: “Powder,” by Tobias Wolff— 

No Blood: “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin—


How do you cry without tears? Do you need to bleed all over the place?

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