Jobs I Once Had

Around 1973 I walk through a field in Mbuji-mayi, Zaire on my way to teach my girls, clapping my hands to scare away snakes.  In 1970 I stroll into the Airliner in Iowa City to my dish-washing job when Doug, leaning against the jukebox says, "You're fired." In springtime 1975 I dry wall the bathroom at the Putney School in Vermont all by myself as my boss staggers through the woods on a week-long drunken binge.  Sometime in 2009 I chant "Om Namah Shivaya" in a temple in Colorado mountains training to teach hatha yoga.  Almost every Saturday morning in 1964 I lead ballet warm-ups at Dixie Lee's School of Dance in Perry, Iowa instead of cleaning the house, where Mother wants me to be.  Around 1974 I sign into my sub-teaching job in an inner city Chicago school as the secretary buys pot from a drug dealer.  In 1981 I coax a Hmong student who is hiding in a bathroom to please come out for lunch.  At the Governor's Mansion in 2007 my slam poets serenade the First Lady with words like arrows from their hearts. And now, I write this poem, eat lunch alone, walk the dog, and listen to silence.

—Keesia Hyzer, Madison, WI