Gary Binowski and Vivian Barrett live 35 years beyond my sight,
past hope of recovery, the boy bouncing heel-to-toe to school
down Blake Street, the other sulkily switching her broom
of waist-length auburn hair, explaining yet again why she’s late.
And yet I revisit fifth grade, the class of Evelyn Maze,
who gave conviction — with pen — asked me to weave a tale
around the Frans Hals woman seated beside an apple barrel,
removed from the last century by canvas and still young before
our eyes. An oil becomes itself most when layers of paint still
bloom with original color. Teachers bind life to canvas of different
sort, air that’s backdrop for thought, that shimmers until sparks
ignite and cling to minds like lint to wool and seas to sand.
I see Evelyn still in the oddly similar short and steely form
of Carmen Santiago, my son’s middle-aged sprite, who mines
some special province for fairy dust, lifts kids to her height.
They think more of themselves because she said they could.
This poem first appeared in ForPoetry.com in 2001.
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