The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.
“In return for the odor of my jasmine,
I’d like all the odor of your roses.”
“I have no roses; all the flowers
in my garden are dead.”
“Well then, I’ll take the withered petals
and the yellowed leaves and the waters of the fountain.”
The wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
“What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?”
~Antonio Machado translated by Robert Bly
This garden blooming with potential,
entrusted to me, now 26 years:
the health and care of 15,000 students,
most thriving and flourishing,
some withering, their petals falling,
a few lost altogether.
As winds of time sweep away
another cohort from my care,
to be blown to places unknown,
I weary weep for losses,
wondering if I’ve failed to water enough
or is it only I with thirst unceasing,
my roots drying out, hidden away deep beneath me?
…one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
~Billy Collins from “Forgetfulness”