Beyond Safe Harbor

for Shelly F

Blazing, your vision crushes ruts.
A torch of fiery breath
it cuts through the redundancy of nebulous
bullshit that wafts up from calling cracks
forging a force of intentional instruction
delivered with timing

Slabs of color warm bleak corners,
as an opaque fog dissipates,
moving students beyond safe harbor
into lives that synthesize and summarize content
strategizing information, mining text for insight.
Your vision burns and buoys us.
A dragon lady and a heroine in one.

(White lady,
rosebud cheeks,
diminutive powerhouse
with heels,
ultra chic.)

Uncertainty hovers its intangibility over next year’s changes,
as your lessons in strength touch my soul,
growing a pillar inside
that brushes off insignificant remarks
like so many pigeons in a park.

Uncertainty dissipates with clear vision,
flinted by the fire in your eyes,
while strategies blaze pathways through tomorrow
stoked in classrooms

Brenda Warren 2013

Process Notes:
The Whirl words sent me spinning, and I couldn’t figure out where to take them. A trip to Immediate Care kept me from my principal’s retirement party on Saturday, and I decided to work the words into a poem that I could give to her, to let her know that she has impacted my life on a profound level. She is a complex person. Her bottom line is family. Right above that lies student performance in our school. Shelly has helped me become not only the teacher that I am, but the person who I am. She hired me as a literacy teacher after I interviewed for a math tutor position. She believed in me, because of the way I talked about my daughter and the importance of her education in the interview. She taught me to believe in myself. Believe the dragon line. It is true. Believe in her strength; it makes her who she is, and every person who has ever stood in front of her knows what it feels like when it emanates from her. Dragon Lady. Sparrow. Rosebud cheeks.

Poets who read my work might remember the lines white lady, sparrow, rosebud cheeks…. I wrote those in a stream of consciousness exercise thinking of Shelly. Her shoes are a trademark. The phrasing is in a piece I wrote in April 2012. Although the shoes and the powerhouse are Shelly, the rest of the piece is not.  That’s how it works, eh?  Bits and pieces of our lives fall onto screens. Here’s a link to that rap ditty if you’re interested.

And here are those damned Whirl words.

16 thoughts on “Beyond Safe Harbor

  1. I remember a couple of teachers who encouraged me. I wish I knew where they were now. But if they were in their 40’s and 50’s over that same time frame …I can only hope they were able to retire well.

    Gentle dragons ingite imagination. Not all dragons breath damaging fire.

    Thanks for your visit. Good luck on the end of year madness at school. Cheers.


  2. This poem is a gift of gratitude, respect, and admiration, for a wonderful person who has impacted your life profoundly, with great experiences and memories of times spent together!!


  3. Your poem is complex and meaningful. An ode a most excellent teacher, human being for sure.
    You have composed her beautifully. What is the dragon line? Loved reading and thinking about
    your poem. TY.


  4. It must be a great pleasure as well as great motivation to have someone to inspire you this way. This applies in many fields and working with rather that competing is conducive to getting brilliant outcomes. I love to see those we teach and work with move beyond safe harbors!


  5. Hi Brenda, love this piece. There are certain individuals who leave a nice mark on us. I love the hiakuish bit, it is so pretty. I have been having some computer issues, and hopefully they have worked themselves out (or I will need a new computer). I need to get round to read folks.



    • That’s my favorite part, too. This is the piece it was meant for when I wrote it a couple of years ago. Love the process. Thanks for stopping to read. I’m mourning April’s constancy a bit. I never thought that would happen!


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