by nathan leslie

    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.

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