After the six figures, the laundry woman every Thursday,
the cleaning woman every Tuesday, the limo rides to and from
the Regal, and the Royal--these "important engagements"
with "important clients"--after working thirteen hour days,
shoveling lunch in five, there was self-exile
in Maine--lichen hikes in the shadows of the
Appalachians, the moss, the crusty lumps of snow
clumped around a root, a stump in the rain.
And after that, there was the little girl
in the classroom who poured tea from the kettle
into the teacups, so nothing spilled.
She didn't look at the teacher,
or even at me for glory or approval,
but to the fruit of her own labor,
and she offered the rest to her
classmates, if they wanted tea.
Then there were the Redwoods, and the class --
my class. There was my mentor singing me,
forgetting the brush of paper in my fingers,
I watched, and let my fingers release,
and my blood pump slower,
and my brain shudder, stop
when it could, if it could.