for 35 years
i have taught
in prisons, institutions, colleges, and social services
I have taught, tutored, counseled, led, guided
while students and clientele fought, bit, kicked,
keyed my car, egged my house.
behind the scenes,
my grants paid for books, tuition, fees, car repairs, gasoline, food
i cradled tears, softened blows, disregarded diversity
advocated, facilitated, soothed, mediated.
easily hundreds, maybe thousands
i cajoled and pressured,
coddled and consoled
pushed and helped,
urged and forced.
reads like an annoying resume.
today one of thousands sent me a
massive bouquet of Freesia flowers.
My hands shaking, eyes blurring
as I read the card,
“I passed ! Thanks for helping me, Nat.”
I counted every petal to represent those
who forgot, neglected, couldn’t, didn’t care, meant to but didn’t.