Greener Pastures

you are not what i thought
and it’s tearing me up
though for once i won’t
say a word about it

but i am disappointed
having to come home this way
trying to shed the mood
that infiltrates my daughter

her exhausted screams
echo through the house
so that i cannot hear
the others’ gurgling happiness

in my soul i reach for her
but my hands, my arms are here
because i’m burned right now
and she’ll sizzle at my touch.

it’s not you, but my blindness,
my greener pastures journey
that has led me right back to
where i never wanted to be again.

as if she knows this, she calls out
in panting gasps, searching for
an answer, a reason, that neither
of us will ever be able to find.

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I Could Have Skipped This

I could have skipped this
but then I would have missed
the sunrise glistening
like a sparkling curtain,
opening today’s show
(carried by wind that
pushes against me, a
wall I will fight now
for the pat on the back
later today)

I could have skipped this
but then I would have missed
the absences she’s had,
the plight of the struggling student
who so demurely
will not ask for help
(but will accept the
help I offer her)

I could have skipped this
but then I would have missed
the smiles on their faces
as they took turns riding
the scooter round and round,
the perfect homemade ice cream
dripping happiness from their chins,
(the memory that I created
with a spontaneous choice)

I could have skipped this
but then I would have missed
the chance to make
a lesson that will enlighten
them, make each of us stronger,
and create the collaboration
that guides them to the
success every student deserves.

I could have skipped this…
but then I would have missed
the life that I have chosen
because I didn’t skip this.

Carte du Jour

what’s the difference? simple, really.
with you, everything is vague and humorous.
with them, direct and consequential.
for me, I would rather take my chances
with a small taste of brutal honesty than
with a whole menu of unknowns.

it amazes me how they, having never
been that close to me, seem to understand
that better than you, who have
opened (and closed) the menus on the food
we share so many times that you’ve
forgotten that I have been here all along.

perhaps you will notice my absence
(perhaps not). either way, I will be taking
delectable nibbles from the dishes they share,
throwing in my hot spices, my sweet vanilla,
and together we will create a carte du jour
that you might admire, but will never taste.

Admission

calling me out in front of them all
isn’t the way to get to the truth
because it’s more polite for me
(as my mother always said)
to admit nothing at all
than to lie to your face

your reaction is as ironic as if
you’d admitted me into your classroom
to run it one day (my way)
only for you to pat me on the back
and thank me for the gift
(the gift that in three years
you wouldn’t allow me to give you)

but I will seal my lips this one time
(though I admit you know me well)
and use the scapegoat I have stood by
all these months, tucking it in my
pocket in case of further inquisitions,
though you and I both know why
I’ll (you’ll) never admit the truth.

Decisions, Decisions

What can I capture from today?

The angry parent email
with threat to principal and
superintendent, all over a book
she shouldn’t have read
(for surely she didn’t understand
its genuine meaning)?

The morose groans of CSAP prep
and note-taking
that I put my students through
year after year
(yet do they listen)?

Or

The perfect rectangle of dough
rolled and ready to fill
with a mix of scallions, dill,
butter, garlic, and parsley
(everything already chopped)
laid out by my husband’s hands?

The well-behaved seven-year-old
daughter who carried in posters,
collected pennies for tastes,
sat listening to every presentation
and (for once)
asked permission before every request?

The gutak herb fritters
and sour cream, cider vinegar,
lemon-pepper sauce
that filled everyone’s faces
with smiles and everyone’s
stomachs with thanks?

The choice,
just like my fretful decision to bake,
my too-young-to-be-married decision to marry,
my too-early-for-grandkids decision to have them anyway,
is obvious.