Thursday, December 11, 2008

I can't forget it

I was writing with my students this week, using different poetry prompts. One of the activities that we did (using photos as prompts) I stole from another TC from the OWP and used it with a photo from this summer's institute that I just got around to printing. Below is the picture, and then the poem.

New York: 2008

We were talking about languages.
Jennifer minored in French in college,
but has since lost most of it.
I was newly inspired to learn Spanish,
and dig back into my Greek and Hebrew,
loving the moments on the subway
when I heard absolutely no English spoken-
instead hearing everything from Spanish and Arabic
to Korean and (obscure to me) eastern European.

We were walking over the Brooklyn Bridge,
a small group of students beginning a tour
given by the (unrepresented) native of our group–Alice.
In the previous ten days of study
I had fallen in love with these people;
I would walk to the ends of the earth for them,
and, after learning my lesson,
gladly wait on them too.

We each carried bags.
Mine, hanging off to the side
because I was already sweating
beyond my own comfort level.
Gatsinzi’s bag looks huge, but was in fact empty,
waiting to be stuffed with souvenirs.
(I don’t remember if it ever was).
Jennifer, the consummate pro,
was like a hiker going ultralight
with that sad excuse for a bag
swaying at her side.

We could have all learned a thing or two from her,
and, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we all did.

Thank you all for some great memories, and inspiration to write. Jennifer and Gatsinzi, I hope I remember things correctly.


Larry Neuburger said...

Thanks , Thomas. I hope you are doing well, and we have a chance to get together again. Have a great Christmas break!

Danielle said...

Your piece made me smile, thank you for sharing it.

I believe each of us left the city a changed person.

Jennifer said...

Thomas, this is lovely, thank you. I also remember our conversation that day quite well. I recall being struck by our shared but very different connection to the word "chai."

You have me pegged on my trying to travel light. And I must admit I'd wondered what Gatsinzi had brought with him -- what a person might need for a day in Manhattan -- it's a relief to discover that big bag was empty, at least when we started out!