to shy Miss Parker
who stood up to the school board
and demanded in her wavering voice
her students be allowed to read
Praise her bravery.
She believed in me even if I didn’t—
oh I thought I was smart but I wasn’t
She was, though. She ignored the slights
of foolish teenagers and ignorant parents.
She plowed right past the sly laughter and grumbling.
Praise the books that gave her strength.
One afternoon in summer we brought an unwashed ungrateful
through-hiker to her mountainside home.
She took him in for the night.
Praise her open heart.
Can you see her, her ancient mother, and the hiker
sitting round the kitchen table,
eating homemade bread and soup?
Praise the lamp that encircled them in light.