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  • I wrote back in March about my teacher in Guatemala ("For Alva, on Women's Day.") I was a radio journalist along with doctors, aid workers, teachers, who wanted and needed Spanish to further our work in Latin America.

    Alva of the high cheekbones and humour and grace, an eminent foundational teacher.

    So, I found my notebook from that keystone education. It is a golden notebook, with red letters saying, Sailing Boat. Little did I know I would set sail even inland to places where speaking Spanish opened doors. Sometimes to a guerilla interview, sometimes to a cabinet minister's office, sometimes to a General on the Panamericano Highway, standing hubristically beside his stalled tank.

    Teachers. They are the fuel, the nutrition, the inspiration. Yes, it was true. I had remembered poems in common. And there, slipped inside the golden notebook, were the poetry scraps. I found the evidence of my memory: I wrote Alva poems as her student. But she wrote me poems as my maestra. Que suerte. De veras.



    School bullets.

    Alva, my escort into the war doors. Clearly and kindly. She did escort me from her danger aerie in Xela, and in the chilly magisterial green land, she was also escorting me into the vocabulary I would need in the mountains, with the parrots, the canaries, the stooges, goons, ambushes, tattletales, rats, torturers, Ministers of Information, misinformation specialists, lies, smiles, smirks, diplomatic couches and killer beauty.

    Here is my poem, Alva's poem, and my school notebook.

    My handwriting was so much better then.

    But I have the words tattooed below my wrists and forearms.
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