Monday, March 3, 2008

Poem by Tamara Miles


Reinforcement

In the bathroom at the high school
Where I teach, two girls from the special
needs class wash their hands in the old white sink,
one lingers as the water rushes over her right
hand, left hand operating the chrome faucet.
I peek at her and she at me
while I quickly cleanse and towel.
I think of Helen Keller at the water pump,
Her teacher spelling w-a-t-e-r into her hand
In the sunlight, the sudden
Understanding and mad rush of words
spilling.

The girl goes on washing one hand,
w-a-t-e-r,
As if it is a spiritual ritual, her friend now at the electric
Hand dryer, looking at me looking at her,
All these eyes calculating and no words spoken or spelled
But heavy in the air:
I am curious; this is awkward;
say something;

Her friend, who wears royal purple, points to my keys,
which have fallen to the floor from my bag:
“Hey. Your keys,” she says, and I celebrate
The words, the dawn of her smile. I am free to pick up the keys and go,
And still the girl washes.
W-a-t-e-r, I sign to God, to Him who sits
at the right hand of God.

2 comments:

harriett said...

Hello Tamara,

How wonderful! this has always been my favorite scene from "The Miracle Worker" and you bring it to life once more.
When can I get that interview?

Tamara Miles said...

We are meeting at the library next week again, so I'd say let's do it then. I will let Janet and Tom know that you are coming.