This morning I see robins are back,
the first birds I learned by name. How many
lessons were written on the blackboard,
the worksheets, the little red desk? My mother
thought everything good in my life came
down to Miss Chase, my first grade teacher.
Not the hesitant Sunday School teachers
up the circle stairs to a rickety room
where I pasted noodles onto blue paper.
In school I never found out what moves
on the soft bed of the Atlantic, what makes
its own light in the dark, its body transparent,
its skin flashing. O, Miss Chase, didn’t you
realize huge plates of earth crash into
each other? All I know has been flipped
upside down and shaken out like a giant
snow globe. This morning Curtis Adams,
teaching on TV, says I can do it, woo-hooing
to show how hard a workout I do
though I’m in a chair fluttering my legs
and lifting 2-pound weights. Sometimes
I’m threadbare, but on the TV, Florida gleams
in the heat. My mother met me in Florida
once, too old to fly though I didn’t know it
till she came through the gate unsteadily.
She was smiling, ready to find roseate spoonbills,
pelicans, limpkins, eager to learn something new.
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.