Bricklaying

yesterday we learned about sod
 and homesteaders’ dreams being trampled by wind and hail and no water
 and how they were tricked into
 settling on free land.
 
 nothing is free.
 
 how they built brick by sod brick–
 tiny houses not much taller than themselves,
 and posed in front with shovels on the roof,
 no time to take them down for the picture–
 for what if it rained, or a snake crept in?
 
 yesterday i thought i was a teacher,
 and they were learning from me,
 my immigrant students building up their vocabulary
 brick by decoded brick.
 
 nothing is ever what it seems.
 
 today they entered and i asked them to write:
 describe challenges when you moved to a new place.
 
 and with the new words fresh on her tongue, she told me:
 just like the homesteaders,
 my family had to move to a new camp
 and my father had to build a sod house,
 no taller than that one in the picture.

 
 and so my student taught today’s lesson:
 one hundred fifty years later,
 we are still making bricks
 instead of trying to break them.
 
 
 

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