Possibility

Jay Featherstone
Thank you to our friend and mentor, Jay Featherstone, professor of education emeritus at Michigan State University and, most recently, co-author of Transforming Teacher Education: Reflections from the Field.  This poem made its debut on the first day of the North Dakota Study Group's annual meeting in Detroit, February 2013.

 

Possibility        
 
for Grace Lee Boggs, Julia Putnam,
and the staff planning the new Boggs Center School in Detroit

 
 
The south window looks out on raised beds, bean vines.
Inside, a  teacher understands the moments to praise
 
in a young girl's life, connecting her to the lives
that lit up Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall—and Detroit.
 
The old visitor, a poet, thinks of words bought and sold
like slaves.  He attends the pleasing buzz of free talk,
 
the give and take after a child asks, 
where do words go after we say them?
 
In the classroom that feels, strangely, like home, 
he takes in the having of ideas,  whispers and laughs from kids
 
high in the mind's jungle gym.  Children are imagining
in different languages and accents,   mapping paths
 
to reason and wonder,   pushing on the heavy door
to the republic of learning.   The visitor is almost afraid
 
to see long-buried promises coming to life:
children growing to the full height.
 
A grave third grader stands intent, studying a soap bubble,
two dark eyes reflected on the rainbow surface.
 
Joseph Featherstone