my students and teacher’s aid
are all undocumented immigrants
when I first came to America
I drove forty minutes twice a week
to volunteer as their assistant
just this year, I became their teacher

I had to tell them about the fire
because I lost all their homework and test papers
and I didn’t have time to plan their lessons
so I didn’t miss a day of work
but that first day, I was disorganized
and my hands shook

I asked them to all go around in a circle
and talk about their thanksgivings
before I announced it
I said, I have bad news
I dont have your tests back
and this isn’t my dress
and I am going to try to do the best that I can
but youll have to practice some patience
because im not at my best

they looked at my boots and asked me
my shoe size. I said im really ok
please dont worry. a week later
I made the announcement:
I have the best news in the world
I found an apartment!

I didn’t think twice about answering
their questions. I’ll live on Lafayette street
I move in the 20th of December. I have a bed
from a girl in Boston.

and they said, teacher, we have to have
a celebration. and they gave me a card
with a puppy on it and so much joint money
the envelope wouldn’t close and my teacher’s assistant
overheard them speaking Spanish

and told me, by the way, on December 20th
you should plan for some company
because the women are all housecleaners
and they want to clean before you move your things in
and the laborers have taken off work to move your bed
and if im available, I also plan on coming to do what I can

and I cried at the same time that I was grinning
thoughts of what kind of food and drinks to offer
swiveling in my head; these are my students
I remember their birthdays. I take pictures of them laughing
so I can frame them and give them back as gifts
I feed them when theyre hungry and remember when theyre sad
I know their work schedules, ive mourned for the deaths of their pets
and those were just fish! I can’t imagine a better way to move in.

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