I walk into the woods alone.
She says her chair doesn’t know her.
He asks when teaching will get easier.
They dare you to be your own self.

Deer track, hummingbird, random raccoon,
Ultralight, paddle board, flock of ducks,
Dune grass, driftwood, alpine meadow.

She, he, they — ideation, activator, includer —
Black, brown, white — red, blue, green.

Sustained dialogue, mentoring, expectations,
Storytelling, spirituality, honor and privilege,
NTT, adjunct, TA, undergrad, retiree, dean.

A chemist explains a more inclusive formula.
An artist models creativity and passion.
A counselor shepherds the enterprise.

Camino, bus ride, death march, polar plunge,
Questing, board game, marshmallow, flashlight,
Ceramic mug, jelly jar, tree-themed hoodie.

Brown, black, white — them, her, him —
Blue, red, green — connectedness, input, intellection.

Salisbury steak, pulled pork, tofu, refried beans,
Fish boil, fried asparagus, cherry strudel,
Fruit, bagel, oatmeal, bacon, lots of coffee.

A graying mentor channels Socrates.
A bubbly sophomore sees a prof clearly.
A lone instructor balances work and life.

Canoe, golf club, rope, harness, ladder, wire,
Meditation, watercolors, challenge by choice,
Slowly inching away from the comfort zone.

White, brown, black — adaptability, restorative, futuristic —
His, hers, theirs — green, red, blue.

She tells them that tenure eventually comes.
They hug him for unloading a tough story.
We walk out of the woods together.
I dare you to be your own self.

May 28 2017

Written for the Wakonse Conference on College Teaching – finished shortly before this reading at the conference talent show.

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