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.
it’s ok.
Freed Me.


  1. We walked the same path for years tending to the needs of those students who called us Teacher. We went to the backstore of our minds finding new ways to teach those less gifted, to teach those very gifted, to give life back to those who only knew abuse, and to invest our soul in the lives that walked into our rooms and then out into the world. I would do it again in a heartbeat because I believe that somewhere there is an adult who says, “She gave me a reason to go on.” You gave many reasons for students to go on as well.

  2. Ditto the first comment….and for every one of us ” teachers” who have loved every minute of every effort we put forth to help others I say “Bravo” for the flowers/thanks. They may come few and far between, but each is so treausred.

  3. AWESOME. Good for you! Please don’t discount your impact on those who failed to mention it. God raises up a harvest and sometimes we don’t get to see it personally. Every act is important… like your writing this poem and reminding others to just say “thank you…” ***mcb***

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