'Vi Geyst Du?' (Where Are You Going?)

for Larry Aaronson after 40 years of teaching

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else,means to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight; and never stop fighting." -ee cummings

Oy, Larry, vi geyst du?
Where are you going,
you teacher of students, you teacher of teachers?
Vi geyst du?

Nu, so you want to retire?

So you've driven all of us crazy, and
       now there's nothing more for you to do?
What? No more classes to teach?
No more students to astound or outrage?
So you think they all finally got the essential
     message of these past forty years,
     namely, "Don't just stand there,
     do something.  Read more deeply! Uncover the lies!
Heal this world, damn it! Care! Be a mentsch!"
So suddenly you think they all
               understood this, Larry?
OK, Larry, now let me look at your heart.
Oh, it's a big heart. I see here that you
     went to court with many kids from your
     beloved Rindge. When no one else stood by them,
     you stood by them, Larry.
I see in this heart you hated MCAS, but still you worked
     with them so they could pass it. Yeah, I figured
     as much.
Please cough. I see here that you never really went
     home, not really, or at least not without carrying
     your classroom home with you.

Vi geyst du, Larry?

I saw the pictures of the students on your walls.
I noted the piles of papers overflowing your shelves.
Oy, what  a mess, this house of a teacher.
And I've heard about your meshuganah early morning
     walks to the river, when all your students and friends
     are still fast asleep, and how you call for blessings to fall
     upon them.

Vi geyst du, Larry?

No more Washington? No more Group School?
No more Pilot School? No more Rindge?

They want team players now, Larry.
So what's the matter, you couldn't make the cut?

Farewell teacher of a million classes.
Farewell teacher of a million shining faces.
Farewell teacher with a million stories.
Farewell crazy Jewish gay man.
Farewell Jewish crazy man gay.
Farewell gay crazy man Jewish. Mainly, farewell Larry.

I know where you are going, Larry.
You can't fool me.
I know you won't rest until every
     classroom takes flight on imagination's
broken wings, until perfect justice reigns from Fresh Pond
to Lechmere, until Harvard Square
     gets off its high farcockert Abercrombie horse, until Bush is gone,
     until the war is over, until Armenians and Turks
     embrace, 'till everyone can say whatever the hell they want,
and think whatever, God forbid, they please.

Vi geyst du, Larry?
     Oy, there's work to do, and you thought it would all get done
     by tomorrow? Larry, only forty more years of wandering.
Zolst leben biz a hundert und tvantzig, Larry.


September 2007


All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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