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Monday, September 08, 2008


by Marion Deutsche Cohen

In New York City there's a poor old woman in a wheel chair who, every midnight, and on 'til 3:00 or 4:00 AM, hangs out in the various schoolyards. She's old and disabled but educated, and she loves education. So she's just there, available, to teach anybody who happens to come along and want to be taught. All the teenagers and young men who would otherwise be out doing drugs or nothing go to her. Nobody kills her or mugs her, they love and respect her, little kids too, and parents of kids who don't want to go to school bring their kids to her night school. She does this every night, in as many schoolyards as she can get to.

Then, back home in Philly... well, you know how the buses run pretty late but not all night, so there's this young man who, after hours, climbs aboard one of the buses, Septa leaves the key for him, is happy he's doing this, he drives that bus around, for those who have to get to work at 4:00 AM or who just like riding the bus at 3:00 AM. And he's got a full bus. As he drives he talks, tells us about the New York City woman who runs the outdoor night school for those who don't like indoor day schools. She's a distant cousin of his, and there are other distant cousins. It's a chain they're running, a human chain.

Marion Deutsche Cohen's two latest books are Crossing the Equal Sign (Plain View Press, TX) about the experience of mathematics and Surviving the Alphabet (Huge Pathetic Force, PA), a poetry chapbook. Forthcoming is Chronic Progressive (Plain View Press, TX), a memoir in poetry of her well spouse caregiving years. Her books total 18. She teaches math at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. Other interests include classical piano, singing, Scrabble, thrift-shopping, four grown children, and two grandchildren.