I could bolt out the door,

run away through the warm lemon glaze

of September sun. I could forget class,

abandon the heavy blue portfolio,

and that drawing, my first,

as messy and meaningless,

as tracks of slugs on sidewalks.

I stare at my lunch:

tuna salad reeks like cat food,

chocolate cookie tastes of chalk.

A class critique. My stomach lurches,

a pack mule stumbling on rocks.

Lamar appears,

my sixth-grade student years ago,

now grown tall, dignified, a Druid priest

in an Eagle’s tee shirt.

He sits, tells me he’s an art major.

I blink,

tell him I’m retired,

trying new things.

My voice sounds small,

a mouse in a jar.

He frowns, touches my arm.

I feel the warmth

of crocus melting snow.

Stay in school, he whispers,

We’re all beginners.

Always.

I murmur thanks.

Still I scan the exit,

like a bird fluttering against glass,

seeking an escape.

The clock ticks,

I trudge to class.

Rosemary Wright lives in Ocean Grove. Since retiring she has taken art classes at Mercer County College. She is a founding member of Storytellers Mosaic.

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