Gary Margolis reflects on student trip

Standing With Your Diversified Occupation
Students at the Wall and Later
at the National Gallery 
Some of them have never flown before,
crossed a border, slept away from home.
All of them can read a carved-in name,
trace a carving in a stone.
You’ve taught them to learn with
their hands, to go beyond themselves
when they can. To take their place
as citizens, biking on MLK’s mall.
They’ve heard his words.
They understand to dream
when others think they can’t.
You’ll have to teach them on this trip
what a cherry blossom is
and why it’s blossomed here and not
where they live in Vermont.
Nothing’s too basic to be learned.
Even, in our nation’s gallery,
where they’ve never been.
Where the guide is trying
to explain, as best she can,
how this artist thought to paint
a leafing spring maple tree
and make it seem to fit in the frame
of the window he was painting
in front of, looking out from.
So you don’t know if you’re seeing
or dreaming. It has that kind of feeling.
How one true thing blends into another.
How his mind, and now theirs, can dream
itself into being here in D.C.
How all things leaf out in a paint brush.
How he signed his name, Ren? Magritte,
in the corner of the canvas.
So one of your students can shout out,  
I think he was my mother’s cousin!
He knows so many painters,
Laroques and Leducs, in Addison County
Vermont. He can fly this memory
home, when he steps off the plane
at the end of this week.
When he sees his mother waving
behind the guarded, streaming glass. 
— Gary Margolis, Cornwall

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