I remember the faux-granite cafe table,
your graceful hand smoothing your blue
silk batik dress as you lamented the cost
of your daughter's crow-footed tuition.
Not merely a teacher but a professor, you
knew college like a chef knows meat. Score-
happy undergrads claimed you as a favorite
while you eased them into life's grinder,
took them for treats before they left town
for rosy jobcoggery. Tenure buttered
your budget for croissants and birch beer,
but oh, your kid's crimson-lined hunger -
on a tweed skirt paycheck, Harvard's hard.
But it would cost her almost nothing here,
I said. Your oh-please smile marked me
naive. You declared your only child
deserved class with smart people.
The pastry went to sand in my mouth.
I wanted to leap onto the brittle table, yell
Woo howdy no don't let yer purty little gal
git learnt longside fool rubes like me!
My dumb face surely flushed Hoosier red
but you chatted on about racism, social justice
as the kid at the counter carved fresh turkey
and I realized I'd never have the cash to pay
for the sandwich I wanted to feed you.
So I snuffed my reply with a bite of turnover pie
as tinsel wisdoms spilled from your unbruised lips.
Let you assume silence was assent. That I left
in mute admiration of your enlightenment.