Site-Specific

(For Maureen Cahoon – longtime crossing guard
who retired in June 2017)

We are travelers, wanderers, strivers.  We struggle.
So, we can’t help but wonder: “What would it be like?”
To stand in one spot – or just a few – for a lifetime.
To trace a radius around a school, as if with an old-fashioned compass.
To be like a slightly-mobile tree, spreading your arms
for others, to shepherd them with your body,
your voice, your face; to see them safely there
and safely home. For forty-one years, and change.

Because so many changes come, and never stop
and what with budget cuts and squeezes, freezes
I worry that one day they won’t replace her.
They’ll say a traffic light could do as well
some better signage, maybe, if we need it
and come on, can’t parents help them cross the street?
But that leaves out her smile,
her raised eyebrow, when it’s needed,
her “How are you?” and the way she sees what’s funny.
Her question: “Isn’t it a nice day?”
just rhetorical, but it really makes you think.

We need that, see, because even where we are,
our days don’t always feel the very best.
In fact, beneath it all some days feel rotten
and it helps, you know, to see the other side.
To think “Nonsense, today’s bad. How can she say that?”
And then to think “Maybe she has a point.”
She seems so certain and she’s been here such a long time,
forty-one years, and change.

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Kimberly G. Jackson is the author of two poetry chapbooks published by Finishing Line Press, Tesseract (2016) and Materfamilias (forthcoming). She was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
You can connect with Kimberly on her website.

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