The nursing home keeps moving her
from drab to more drab, from halls
where attendants canter briskly
to impress the visitors, to halls
where dust settles in gray carpets.

Forty years a teacher of the blighted,
infants poisoned by their alcoholic mothers,
children staggering into school, legs
trembling with cerebral palsy.
The over-active, the under-fed, the mute,
those the squeamish call exceptional.

She spent her life defying
those exceptions, giving some a fighting
chance. Here no one makes exceptions –
not for her.