Flood and Fire

Ten minutes to evacuate! What would I take in case
of flood or fire?

1. grandmother's silver set

2. the Sam Johnson 1st edition dictionaries
father left

3. likewise, three museum-mounted, octavo,
hand-tinted Audubon prints, (cedar waxwings,
Bachman's swamp warblers, scarlet tanagers

4. two scrapbooks of memories from forty years
of teaching

5. and this... a framed scrap of yellow tablet paper
from 1977. In awkward cursive pencil, fading now,
is written:

Why My Dad Is Special
Jon Schuster - Washington School - Grade 3
Mrs. Vassar

My dad is so special because he always takes
us swimming. And he helps me with model
airplanes. He tells me storys [sic] at bedtime.
And he takes me fishing at the woolen mill.
He takes me on bike rides around...

The rest is torn away and lost. I try to imagine the
list of happy dad-things going on and on, but in
truth can recall only bits of what's here. It's Mrs.
Vassar's title, no doubt, but son Jon saw fit to add
the "so." No testimonial in forty years comes close.
From flood and fire I may fly like a waxwing, though
my sins be as tanagers. In case of death, however,
send only this with me to Judgment.

Thank you, Mrs. Vassar, and all who teach.