On weekdays she carries her LL Bean backpack,
Gray and filled with pockets.
Some mornings she also carries a stack of textbooks that won’t fit
Into the pack because it is too full
Of other books and accessories.
G2 pens, some black and some red,
And mints and earbuds and chap stick and her water bottle—teal green
And hurriedly filled with filtered well water before she heads out the door in the morning.
The small pocket at the top of the pack carries her key ring.
She carries the house key for her parents’ house because she still lives with them
Even though she is in her thirties.
She is not married and is grateful for her mother’s homecooked meals and
Her father’s wisdom.
She thinks about moving out again someday soon but is waiting
On Jesus to give her the word.
She carries the large key for the school building and four smaller keys for the
File drawers and cabinets in the school.
The remote control on her ring is for her Honda Odyssey, still running
Faithfully at 273,486 miles.
The last key on her ring is for the Honey Brook Youth Center
Because she used to live next door and somehow she
Never returned it.
In the main pocket is her large blue binder. The binder
Has survived years of teaching—and even the year she took a sabbatical
To graduate from college.
Every year she puts new labels on the dividers. This year they say
BIO, HS ENG, IEW, YEARBOOK, and
BIBLE. These are the classes she teaches.
The front of the binder, a clear plastic pocket, is stuffed with layers
Of mementoes from the last decade.
A thank you note from a little boy who is now a man, a photo
With a fellow teacher in front of the tulips at a park in Manhattan,
A verse in the beautiful script of a favorite student who left her school
For public school.
In another pocket is her wallet. She carries little cash,
But the MacBook she carries has a whole Excel file that records people’s generosity
And God’s miraculous provision. She carries credit cards from Amazon, Boscovs, and BB&T,
A driver’s license, tax exempt cards for when she does school shopping,
And loyalty cards for September Farm and Panera and Ollies.
Often she carries gift cards. Her friends are kind.
She carries receipts for gas, for groceries, and for the McDonald’s in Pottstown
Where she buys Big Macs for her friend Kim.
She carries her cell phone in the small pocket. It is an iphone with
501 contacts. On her home screen she has WhatsApp and GroupMe and Voxer
And her alarm clock and calculator and calendar and camera.
Her Instagram is not on her home screen,
But she knows where it is.
On her wrist she carries a large watch with a leather strap. She lives a very scheduled life
Except on Saturdays when she lets the watch lie on her dresser.
On Saturdays she carries a large faux leather bag
When she goes to see Kim at the Manor Care at Pottstown.
In her bag she carries red nail polish and homemade cookies,
Wheat crackers with cheese and a bottle of shampoo for Kim.
And on Sundays she carries her worn leather Bible.
It has large margins penned full of good quotes, cross references,
And Greek word definitions.
Under her Bible she carries her journal, bound hardback,
With narrow lines. In it she processes things too raw for human ears.
Prayers of surrender. Pleas for her students. And sometimes the ache
To have a family of her own and be a wife and mom.
The silk ribbon in the journal marks a page with a verse she’s choosing:
“Forget your people and your father’s house,
And the King will desire your beauty.
Since He is your Lord, bow to Him.”
All this she carries with a strength not her own. She is weak, but
Christ in her is strong.