Ms. French’s fourth-grade classroom.
Formica desktop at chest level,
Anne of Green Gables
Julie of the Wolves
Island of the Blue Dolphins
pinned open with front cover
conspicuously toward teacher.
How I coveted her occasional remark—
“that’s a lovely one, isn’t it Kristen?”—
testament to a high mind.
Twenty-four years later
I plow through a peak-hour crowd
to reach my target: guy spied
stuffing A Confederacy of Dunces
into his pack. “That’s an amazing book
you’re reading, huh?”
“Oh, man, really is. So good.”
These words and the nod
that comes after give such lift!
Two evening commuters in lockstep
over the famously outrageous Ignatius;
sense of something bound,
even as we go our separate ways,
unlikely to cross paths again.
It was about so much more
than approval, two decades back,
Ms. French with her smart
silver hair and stern countenance
softening just long enough
to seed connection; let through
sparkling salute to a red-headed orphan girl,
she of kindred spirit, richest imagination.