Saturday, July 25, 2009

Recycled from April 2004

I wrote this for my students during my 3rd year of teaching. I'm afraid I've lost some of this passion and it breaks my heart. I want to be this teacher again, the teacher who's not afraid to pour her heart out to her kids so that they don't doubt my love for them. I've gotten jaded and I don't like it.

A love poem
April 2004

They laughed when I told them I was moving to the city

Me, a barefoot girl raised on bluegrass and biscuits
In a town where everyone knew my momma
And everyone loved my daddy

They laughed at the thought of me in this new foreign place,
my native tongue cut out by those who do not speak as I.

I endured their laughter and pitied their ignorance of what they could not understand.

I was meant for more than this small town.

Three summers have passed since I arrived in the rain, my belongings as soaked as my mother’s face when she said goodbye.

I made my home in a new place, a place where doors are locked tightly, where lives are lost nightly, where the old scars run deeply and prices rise steeply, where spirits are broken and truth is not spoken.

This place on the muddy River.

A new place where I am the minority.

A new place where I am not totally—at ease.

A new place that I now call—my home.

Sometimes I visit that small town that cradled me, enabled me, made a fable of both me and my childhood dreams and hopes.

The people there do not laugh now, but shake their collective heads in pity and sad respect.

And bewilderment.

And wonder.

And hate.

They do not understand why I would go somewhere so dark—dark alleys, dark deeds, dark skin.

They cannot fathom what I hear in my head, the whisper that tells me I must not stop, I cannot stop, I will not stop until the light of enlightenment shines in your eyes, until you embrace reality forget all the lies, until I can finally make you realize

That this life that you call a life does not have to be.

That you can’t all be stars but you all can shine.

That you may not have a mansion but you can have a home.

That my face may be white by my heart is red like yours and it breaks with each choice you make.

No, I must not stop, I cannot stop, I will not stop.

Not until those who love me question my priorities and curse the day I passed into this place of learning.

Not until I’ve lost countless nights of sleep worrying where you are and wondering what you’ll be.

Not until every ounce of blood and sweat and tears has fallen on this dirty floor and I scream and cry and grind my teeth from exhaustion

Not until you learn, until you learn poetry and prose, the new and the old, the one about the roads, the road less traveled and the road worn by many travelers before you.

Until you learn that you must take that road less traveled if you every wish to truly live.

The people of my small town do not understand why I care, how I can care for those who often care not for me, how I can love this culture that is not my own.

How I can love children whom I didn’t bear—

who may not know how to love me in return.

And it is I who pity the people in that small town, for they can never understand the fuel that lights my fire

To see a light in the eyes of one who finally understands, who forms a plan, who becomes a man

To see grace in the face of another who sees, who finally believes, who meets her needs

This desire to dry your tears and ease your fears to make you understand that I am not in front of you because I have to be but because I want to be.

That as much as I love this language I speak and putting pen to paper until I’m free, I love you more.

No money can buy the feeling inside, no title can make me prouder more than that title of educator, instructor…teacher.

No, I must not stop, I cannot stop, I will not stop.

Not until I make you understand.

They laughed when I told them I was movin’ to the city.
Away from the bluegrass and biscuits and momma and daddy
And everything I had ever known.
They laughed when I told them I was movin’ to the city.

But I am laughing now.

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