I cannot say what it was that I dreamed of that compelled me at 5:07 AM out of bed.

Just that it did.

I suppose I had remembered I had forgotten

to say thank you.

 

I woke to the memory of a third grade classroom

not mine

but another

used each week to teach a handful

a select class

of uncombed and mismatched children.

I imagine we were all as I

the daughter, or if I wished hard enough,

the son

of VW bug driving

pot smoking

undercover hippies with roommates

and jobs.

 

Our teacher once a week

as I remember her is just an animated upper torso

headless and seated at a table

bottomless. I remember

her arms and how she would sometimes clasp her hands in her effort

to be silent.

I imagine she was as young as I when

I left home for good.

 

She must have arrived at the same time as I.

She could not have been there during

the fall of Cincinnati.

How could she have been if I had not?

She must have lied.

She must have proposed she would teach us to write

poetry. In truth

she came simply to let us.

 

I remember the day she brought music

Tchaikovsky or a

peer. She said, “Write what your ears can see.”

I imagined a mean spirited and handsome boy

that didn’t love me

even though I knew he did.

When I grew up, I met him again.

He had not changed from how I had imagined.

 

This woman

really, this girl hung

on our every word. None

were forbidden, each allowed

a place in our otherwise empty room.

I imagine her alone

at home, wishing for the languid complacency

that surrounds a house cat as he saunters

to nap,

or the unexamined life of the woman

sitting next to her today on the bus that smelled

vaguely sour and fingered the loosening

seams of her white faux leather

purse with braided straps,

jealous of the easy abandon when only eight,

hoping she could be as simply seen,

practicing telling the truth.

 

She didn’t mention it

if we did something wrong.

She didn’t bring the part of her that hurt,

though the despondence of the succinctly criticized lingered about her,

to us. I like to believe she became

in fact one of the obscure and amazing

contemporary poets of today.

I would not know were it so, her name slipped

into the oblivion of public school experiments

with guinea pigs and children.

I never did follow poetry.

 

I have a stapled chronicle of

that spring, purple

mimeograph pages

each poem making its own

Rorschach inkblot shape on the page

some lithe – ephemeral

others stubborn blocks

each with the afterblot

of a first name.

–        Tina

–        Keiko

–        Max

This is who I remember almost forty

years hence. This and that

 

having a voice would not require my speaking

out loud.