Ode to Mrs. Nicholas

I wish I had a long roll of butcher paper that unfurled down the length of a classroom. I wish I had an arsenal of thick-tipped sharpies and a pocketful of beautiful penmanship. Because that is how this deserves to be written: in the finest cursive or amen printing, large enough for even the students in the back row to see, cascading down every classroom in every city.

You were an angel amidst us,

too tall for the habit but cloaked perfectly inside a classroom, whose walls you pushed against

with your Frost and cummings and later, oh–thank you for later too, teaching me Mary Oliver, long past the time we shared 5th grade together.

You scrawled out verses on butcher paper that hung like fuchsia from the walls, and I, a hummingbird to those words, drinking of their nectar and grateful for your stocking the feeder of my mind.

You watched from your perch, even when I thought your eyes were elsewhere:

A note on my desk, no larger than a bookmark, that amen printing and that hallelujah spirit: Linsey, Dearest, Chin up little one, you are loved more than you will ever know. I am your own, Mrs. Nick

No need to peer into your blue eyes to know that it was true; you were not a teller of tales.

What choice did I have? Not quite your stature and not nearly your heart, but I followed the word trail you ignited in my bones.

Not nearly your grace, but I jump on tables and read black marks on white pages and sing the glory of those characters, hoping that one heart will become infected. I teach because of you.

hoping that one line will sing–I write because of you.

hoping that one battered heart will be buttressed–I send notes and notes and notes because of you.

hoping that one stanza strikes a chord–I read Rilke and Rumi and Whyte  because of you.

You were the one, Mrs. Nick,

who in so many ways, illustrated the beauty of the world and the necessity of compassion and the life in the jumble of words.

These tears–the huge wet drops dripping down my cheeks–I can’t imagine that they are anything but gratitude.

And perhaps sorrow, that there was only 5th grade and only one you and perhaps most, so very little time.

Chin up, you are loved more than you will ever know.

I am your own.

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Summoning a Solstice

These roses–half cut from my yard and half filtched from my neighbor’s (it’s been vacant for two years–someone’s gotta love the roses!)–are perfuming my living room. It’s the peach colored one, the hue that reminds me so much of Nana Nunu, that wafts about the room.

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And if that, and an eight-mile run with kick still left in the end, and a mighty steed grazing on grass while I sit atop the gravel pile reading The Chaperone isn’t enough, there is this:

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Everyone told me I’d planted too many peas. I was–am–certain that there is no such thing. Sure, the shoots are falling over with lethargy and lack of proper support (I’ve got plans for you next year, pea trellis!) and yes, there are so many that N and I might not harvest them all, but half of them get eaten before they even make it in the basket!

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He looks so innocuous, that boy. He’s as silent and hearty as a slug, munching away on the other side of the bed.

There’s beauty in a row of peas in a pod. Like early recruits, all lined up, ready for summer service. What can we make today, Ma’am? Fresh or lightly buttered, Ma’am? The task–if it can be called that–of zipping open the pod and plopping out the little orbs is joy in itself, especially if shucked in the sun, wearing shorts, with a cold beer on one side and your beau on the other.

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And then, of course, there is the eating. There will be this tonight. And later this. And next week, for the long road trip to Long Beach, these.

Don’t these languid days, what, with their ambrosial aromas and days stretching into evenings and dusks at ten p.m. and globes of green goodness–don’t they just nearly bowl you over with giddiness?

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