A revelation, this student

already in high school who didn’t know

how to tie her shoes.


I took her into the book-room, knowing

what I needed to teach was perhaps more

important than Shakespeare or grammar,


guided her hands through the looping,

the pulling of the ends. After several

tries, she got it, walked out of there


empowered. How many things are like

that—skills never mastered in childhood,

simple tasks ignored, let go for years?


In the Zen tradition, When the student is ready,

 the teacher appears. Perhaps that is why this

morning, my head bald from chemotherapy,


my feet somewhat farther away than they

used to be as I bend to my own shoes, that

student returns to teach me the meaning


of life: not to peel my potato, though that,

too, counts, but to simply tie my shoes and

walk out of myself into this sunny winter day.

by Penny Harter


Penny Harter  lives in the southern New Jersey shore area. Author of many published collections of poetry, along with ongoing and frequent journal publications of her work, she writes to celebrate the natural world and the miracle of our being here at all!  Her writing has also helped her survive the loss of her parents and husband, as well as her more recent journey through cancer and successful chemotherapy.

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