Poem of the Week, by Pat Mora


Mrs. Martin was the only one who believed in me.

When Mr. Jackson died I flew across the country to his funeral and told his family what he had meant to me. 

I still have the note that Miss Delaney gave me on the last day of third grade.  

I named my son after Mr. James, the way you might name a son for his father. Because that’s how important Mr. James was to me. 

Teachers wield power –sometimes for bad, like the first-grade teacher who hung a sign around my sister’s neck that read “I talk too much in class,” but mostly for good. And that power lasts a lifetime. How many times I have given this prompt in a workshop —Think of a powerful figure from your childhood and write about that person– and listened to story after story about a teacher. A magical teacher who created a cloud of safety around a child ignored, unseen, and unsung, as in the quiet, lovely poem below. 


Ode to Teachers, by Pat Mora

I remember
the first day,
how I looked down,
hoping you wouldn’t see
and when I glanced up,
I saw your smile
shining like a soft light
from deep inside you.

“I’m listening,” you encourage us.
“Come on!
Join our conversation,
let us hear your neon certainties,
thorny doubts, tangled angers,”
but for weeks I hid inside.

I read and reread your notes
my writing,
and you whispered,
“We need you
and your stories
and questions
that like a fresh path
will take us to new vistas.”

Slowly, your faith grew
into my courage
and for you—
instead of handing you
a note or apple or flowers—
I raised my hand.

I carry your smile
and faith inside like I carry
my dog’s face,
my sister’s laugh,
creamy melodies,
the softness of sunrise,
steady blessings of stars,
autumn smell of gingerbread,
the security of a sweater on a chilly day.    


For more information on Pat Mora, please click here.​

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