Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Zoosh! My Toast to Zofia Kaminski

To supplement my writing, I've been teaching in the public schools the past few years including some one-on-one special-ed. Zofia (rhymes with Sammy Sosa) is one of the special ones. Here's our story from two Christmases ago.

"Don't worry ...
Be happy!"
sings her silly
fish friend
from his wall mount
in Room 144B
And indeed
this could be
her motto --
for despite
the fatiguing fight
with Cerebral Palsy
Her almost perpetual smile
rarely fails
to Light the world

Zoosh, they say
I am your "teacher's aide"
but I'm doing
much more learning
than teaching lately

For example
learning to balance
the classes applause and admiration
with cries of
"Clean my desk!" and "Where's my pencil?"
But Mother Teresa
told me she'd rather
clean lepers
than accept
the Nobel Prize
so maybe this lesson's
Important too ...

I could also learn
a thing or two
from Mrs. Hayes
Who, when assignment
upon assignment
pile up into
an avalanche of anxiety
This motherly cross
between Santa Claus
and the Wizard of Oz
always has ways
of making you giggle

Still, Zoosh, I know
I have at least one lesson
about life and writing
to teach you --
It's about Christ's call
to "Be not Afraid!"
You see, Zoosh
Not only
is this the motto
of my other favorite
Polish writer
John Paul II
But this saying
while similar to that
of Big Mouth Billy Bass
contains a Wisdom (of Joy)
that most fish and 11-year-olds lack

For when you whisper
in the hall
you are sad for Jason
"Who may never walk at all."
Or when you declare
in Mrs. Mall's
You want your invention
to feed the world's Hungry
and house all its Poor
Or when you demand
of the suddenly
less serene Mrs. Green
"But what I want to know
about the Conquistadors
is -- Are they good - or bad?"

You are already asking
the prophetic questions
that someday will make
this wrong world right
And though Prophets rarely
win popularity contests
I bid you, Sofia
to "Be not Afraid."
Keep asking your questions
Live your smile
and, of course,
Write on!

And while I can't predict
if the District's Bigwigs
will let me remain
as your Partner in Rhyme
May our new friendship
Remind us both
to always remember
that with our prayers
and much hard work
Miracles still happen
and Dreams come true.

-from your pauper Irish author to our Priceless Polish Princess,
Merry Christmas Zofia

Tom O'Toole
Christmas, 2004

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