Sunday, October 30, 2011

Seeing My Old Teacher Again After Many Years

~for Dr. Zumwalt

I did not know that my way out of that canyon would be filled with so many twists and turns. So I left him standing there at the end of his gravel drive and drove away with a light heart, promising I would soon return to spend another day helping him at his press: setting types and printing pages painstakingly the old-fashioned way, sharing a simple lunch of soup simmering in the crockpot, reminiscing about his experience as a young pilot in the waning days of World War II in Italy.

I drove out of the canyon on a road that wounded along river bottoms, through foothills covered in dry scrub oaks and brittle pines, across a little stone bridge arching over a clear stream…and never returned.

Now, after these many years, he has come all the way from his home in the Sierra Nevada foothills to hear me read my poetry. “He heard you would be reading. He wanted to come and see you,” his wife says. I look at my old teacher: His proud yellow mane turned patchy white, shoulders more stooped, a little bit hard of hearing. But the gleam in his eyes and his gap-toothed smile are still the same--laughing at himself and at the world, as if he has already found most of the secrets of life, and finds them amusing.

“I have thought about you,” he chides me.
“And I have thought about you,” I reply.

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