29: To The Wanderers

A few years ago, I paraphrased some of Jeremiah 29, the oft-quoted letter to the Israelite exiles in Babylon. While no one I know is in literal exile, it occurred to me then that many of my friends and students–all over the world and for a variety of reasons–find themselves in unfamiliar places, and are…

Faithful To The Fields

…What we owe the future    is not a new start, for we can only begin    with what has happened. We owe the future    the past, the long knowledge that is the potency of time to come. That makes of a man’s grave a rich furrow. The community of knowing in common is the seed    of…

On Surprises

We’re sitting in a rectangle of desks on Friday afternoon, ready for Round Two of poetry presentations in American Literature class. Yesterday, the class was a showcase of teenaged creativity. I’ve arranged their projects on the low bookshelf that runs along the back of the room:  a model village to illustrate E.E. Cummings’s “anyone lived…

Of Returning

My students have obligingly pulled their chairs into a rough circle on the second afternoon of school in 2013. We’re reading Emily Dickinson aloud, each student sharing his or her favorite from last night’s reading, explaining why it was so special. My classroom fills with the call and response of familiar words in familiar voices, punctuated by…

Gifts, Poems, Accidents

Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart. Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 I’ve never…

Real Life

“Hope is a thing with feathers, that perches on the soul,” she begins, swaying a little and looking down.  Her voice gains strength as she reads the familiar words.  Another student snaps a few pictures, and in only twelve lines she is done.  With a sigh of relief, amid two dozen clapping hands, she sits…

Little Town

(Because for some of us poetry is clearer, and because I was inspired by the student portfolios I spent the weekend grading.) It’s a little town. Three hours is an epic journey so no one leaves because quests aren’t for everyone. Sister and niece moved three villages over So he’ll never see them now. Why…