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Brittney Walker-Zaleski

I once had a student

who was old enough to be my father.

He’d just broken free from 

decades at a bank.


Upper management-you see


So talking about that past life 

was difficult. 


He told me that he decided

to learn more English

when he was walking the Camino de Santiago.

It would have been easier 

to speak to the other pilgrims


He was the kind of pilgrim that

gave up beer and gummy bears for Lent,

but not hot coffee—that he drank everyday


I miss the gummy bears the most, he said.


In class we’d read and speak,


do grammar exercises.


Good job, I’d tell him

when he answered correctly.


Very good job, he’d always reply.


Yes, you’re right, I’d chuckle and draw a star on the board.


He never let me forget to draw a star. 


One day, he flipped through his smart phone

and showed me a picture

of his suits and ties in a pile


I gave them to charity, he said proudly.


Freedom was plastered all over his face.

About the Author

Brittney is an American expat living in Europe. In addition to being a poet and artist, she's an English language instructor. Ever since she was a child, she's had a love for travel and learning about new cultures. She's also passionate about encouraging others and listening to their stories. Most of her poetry is inspired by her personal journey with identity, the definition of home, and other observations and reflections regarding the human condition.

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