Excursion

With the gray light of a November morning
Entering the windows at the end of the corridor,
She feels the hour is too early
To enter her classroom.

Instead, she leaves her satchel at the door
And walks the full length back
To where she thought her day had begun
And out again through the cool newness of the day
Toward the red oval whose four loops make a mile.

Her hands in her coat pockets,
She sees the geese over the fence
On a ballfield, bemused but resting…
Most of them remember there having been
A wetland around here in past years.

And the steps continue, around the back curve,
She sees now the building in the distance,
Its boilers’ stacks sending a pale wisp into the sky.
And the painted hills beyond are a picture of the thanks
We’ll all give in three weeks’ time.

She hears a honk among the geese behind
And the murmur of traffic from the highway
That is obscured by a tree-covered ridge just beyond the school.
In a gap between the clouds the moon hovers,
Just past full, just today beginning to wane.

She walks four times the stretched ring,
And four times she marks the lost geese,
And the smoke and the ridge and the hills.
And four times she smiles to think
That she is not sure what drew her out
Under a gray sky, turning pink
As the sun presses the day forward.

A bell sounds, and the geese peck at the grass.
The students will be lining up,
And she will smile at them
As she picks up her satchel once again
And leads them into the classroom.
The mystery of an unplanned mile afoot
Will embellish the day for her
And animate its course.

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