Monday, November 22, 2010

Lunch with Teachers.

Brimming with anticipation for what work Eli and I will bring to Alaska I chat with my new friend, Yvette about a State Trooper job. She shot hoops at the Native Shoot Out for the troopers with the "drunk goggles" on. She made 4/5 baskets. This job promising the allure of a cozy home with 3-4 bedrooms, a space for the music studio, an acre of land where the kids will collect fire weed, lupine and scratch 13 mosquito bites, get a wasp sting, yell at a moose eating the broccoli in our garden intoxicates me, displaces me from a goal of independence in creative employment and joy in each working day for Eli. At the round table Nina's head scarf and , hand-embroidered floor-length Russian Orthodox dress remind me of Kenai, of the bluff, the blue onion bulb towered church. The long haired, apostate who ran the place, reprimanded by the city police for stealing the funds charged by visitor tours. If you give a mouse a cookie style, that reminds me of the Russian teenagers at Soldotna Fred Meyer with their side sashes stuffing candy bar into their puffy side pockets. I reprimand my mind for such contrasting images as Nina speaks about the special ed child she assists at the school. Jack had lost his coke bottle thick glasses today. His computer talker device wasn't good enough to express his frustration. She gently imitates the stomping escalation that ensued. Like the dusting of snow outside causing light to reflect, Nina's constancy and gentility soothed his ruddy face and helped him retrace his steps. She cuts the vacuum seal on the smoked salmon her uncle had made. It smells of brown sugar and fish. Yvette spreads her spicy salmon spread onto a Ritz cracker. Another teacher had a Scottish cheese to contribute and proliferates from the French bakery around the block. Tasting the world on my tongue I think of the many years I have missed the rich, nourishing taste of salmon. The dark pink flakes separate in my mouth tasting like gold rush magenta. The special ed classroom warms of a slower pace-extra time and attention to the kids they teach. Jory, a fourth grader with learning disabilities and my guess of a rough home life sticks his head in the door. His speech sounds intermingled with ocean waves crashing, "Eww. It stinks in here! I am going out to recess...but I am NOT going to pick up the snow! I just wanted to tell you, I won a pizza last night." Yvette gave him a thumbs up and a smile as she was taking a phone call arranging pick up after school of her preschool age son. Her older daughter is expecting a baby any day now, her kids ages span 25 years. We talk about how all families work, of the unique treasures that expansive older children and younger children share. My daughter, older than my brother (her uncle) and my 15 year old sister her aunt, romp through the woods until they crushed a hornet's nest and paid a pretty price for such an oversight. One of my kids first, grand Alaskan adventures...a foreboding and realistic introduction to the unforgiving north that doesn't want friends. At this round table we partake of life. Nourished my what the land gives, in return, like Mica sloughing off a layer of resistance a melding of sisterly cement is felt. Conversation of what women speak of; menstruation pains, breastfeeding, children, husbands are lifeblood woven.

Lunch with Teachers

Pickled salmon wedged between my teeth
Savory crackers with dried fish
Yvette has five children, three raised, two still at home
She dances with the Native Elders, sons are learning to drum
Build the igloo, brush the snow
She kisses little Joe
Nina's dress handmade, fashioned of old world Russia
Knotted scarf on her nape
her eyes reflective
New husband, toddler child, teacher's aid
They know I can, there's hope for my little girl
She'll write of her 24 bee stings, her first fishing trip
Journal her first period, a mark of womanhood
But before she will cry at night
Worried she won't pass the third grade
Wounded Mrs. B doesn't like her thoughts
Attacked by labels she must find her strength
Women complete with culture
bound by common Alaska

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