Walking with Mary

for Mary Mackey

I follow her down the path by the river,
her river, the one she and her late husband
canoed, where they swam and soaked up
all manner of nature, when they weren’t

teaching or traveling to the Amazon
for research—him the environmental
scientist, her the poet/novelist who based
books deep in the jungle, among other

places. Now recovering from the tsunami
of his passing and exercising her new hip,
this long-ago teacher of mine still has
much to offer this perennial student.

Did I tell you the story about…? she’ll
begin, and even if she has, I want it again
because it’s been almost a half century
since I first sat in her classroom,

and Mary’s got so many more stories,
some doled out in books and poems,
some spun out to my listening ears
as we walk by the green-grassed,

poppied banks of the levee, each
day yellowing into summer weeds.
We follow the path under heavy oaks
that must be so grateful for all that

winter rain torrentially delivered,
the river running high and fast
beside our slow, steady steps. She
wants us to try the canoe once

the water settles down, after the big
melt that has filled every reservoir
and river in the state has passed
through. Can you steer? she asks,

and I think, Can I? Canoe?
chuckling at the old joke. Can two
retired professor poets make their
way downstream, learning to

paddle in sync with a new/old friend?
I say, We can try, and Mary says,
with ageless enthusiasm,

Photo / Jan Haag

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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2 Responses to Walking with Mary

  1. Kara Petris says:

    Hi Jan, I have so enjoyed your (dare I say) FLOOD of poems over the last few months! I have saved so many to read over and have even tried my own poems after your instructional :0) I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your beautiful words with the rest of us. I really appreciate you! P.S. Give Dick a big hug from me!

    • janishaag says:

      Thank you for this generous response… and bravo, Kara, for writing your own poems! I’m thrilled to hear that! I know Dick will send a big hug back at’cha, as do I. Love to you and your marvelous family from us.

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