Today we read Anzaldúa.
Shakespeare and Chaucer sat
quietly in the back of the room
ceding the stage to the New Mestiza
and her wild, untamed tongue.

New vocabulary words were posted
on the board: Nepantla, Nahuatl,
Latinx, and intersectionality,
instead of iambic pentameter or alliteration.

We traveled through her borderlands,
with me as an untrained guide.
with my students walking beside me,
not in front or behind, coaching me in
Spanish as I coached them in English.

Teaching is throwing seeds as widely as
you can and hoping some take root. Today
I taught not for the front row, but
for the quiet girl in the back
with the Bowie T-shirt,
and the rainbow suspenders.

Messages come in strange vessels:
a glass bottle may contain an ancient cry for help,
 a burning bush may be aflame with
the word of God, an angel in a beam of light
may tell a virgin she is with child,
and a middle-aged white man
may be the first to say to these seniors,
“Today we will read Anzaldúa.”
Michael Gerleman is a teacher in Harlingen.
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