I wrote this poem to honor Constance Person, my English Lit teacher in my senior year of high school. It was a large class and she always had the desks arranged in the shape of a square with an opening near the chalkboard. But she spent most of her time in the center of the room, walking and talking. Mrs. Person was getting along in years. I found out she retired the next year, and count myself fortunate to have been one of her students.
Always in the center, whirling, twirling, setting minds ablaze with gushing sparks of knowledge and experience. Little exterior, towering interior. Next thing I knew you stood behind my desk, your hands upon my shoulders as if you were driving the idea of what I could be, letting out the clutch.
You addressed the class, gripping me. A boy slides down in his chair, feverish, cloaked in black. A boy’s heart cries out Mercy Mercy Mercy!
Your confidence unfolded my aching awkwardness like a family heirloom or a fragile cloth or drooping flower petals, now freshly watered with the drops of your uncompromising faith and certainty – petals that now turn back toward you as if you were the sun.
A man stands up. A man says thank you.