©Elisa Salasin, 2009

So you wrote your autobiography about
Looking for your mother. You described foster care –
Wrote, “this situation will soon be remedied.”
Your mother was waiting in a private midnight.
You were, you wrote, her satellite. You were always
In class, never did any work. I failed you
Every semester. School, you said, was just a shuffling,
screaming sadness, what you felt when classroom windows got broken,
What we never heard when students showed up on, say, a Tuesday
And then never showed up again. “It just happens,” you said.

Pretend that missing line, there, is a clutch of stars. I give it
To the kids who did my homework in a shelter before lights
Out, the kids who sidestepped someone on the floor
On the way up to their apartment door each night
And didn’t think that was strange, I fear.
You taught me to honor what I have, to bless what I don’t
And my search for it. Thank you for that.
So this, then, is for all of my students in their huge, dark orbits.
I’m but a clod of cold stones to your great suns,
Far flung, shuffling, scraping absent echoes
Into the dry, blue vacuum of space.

©Mike Richman, 2009

Michael Richman teaches English at New Design High School. Notice he just said, “teaches” and not “teaches well” or “teaches with the line and discipline of a Balanchine dancer.” But he does so hope you won’t think less of him for that. He was a BAWP-ie in – what – ‘03? It’s sort of a blur. Finally, it bears mentioning that he recently returned from a trip to London where he ate many a British Kit-Kat (TM) bar, the British version being far superior to anything on this side of the pond.

One Response to “Orbit by Mike Richman”

  1. Liane Cismowski Says:

    Thank you for this tribute to your students and for your faithful service to them. Both are beautiful.

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