December 18, 2018

T.R. Poulson

ESSAYS

for Virginia Partain

She made a list of things that she would save
as a child, before she read of storms, despair,
and essays that told of surviving, being brave.

Back then, it was the things her parents gave
her: cats and toys, a ribbon for her hair.
She made a list of things that she would save,

metaphoric then. The boyfriend she forgave,
a note he sent to her. That lovelorn bear.
The essays told of surviving, being brave,

in classrooms, poems by Plath and Sexton paved
the way to leaving pain, to be prepared.
She made a list of things that she would save,

blurred with time and grief. She grew to crave
success for those entrusted to her care,
whose essays told of surviving, being brave,

not victims. She took her cats away from waves
of fire. No time to stop, to look and stare
at lists she made. The things that she would save:
Essays that told of surviving, being brave.

from Poets Respond
December 18, 2018

__________

T.R. Poulson: “This is in response to the story of Virginia Partain, a teacher from Paradise, California who saved only her cats and her students’ college application essays from the fire. Stories like this make me feel hope.”

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