It’s little known on the outside that teachers don’t often call each other by their first names –even off hours, so every afternoon Mr. Casey and I would stay a while after the students left and share poetry that we had written, or bring in movies for each other to watch, but sometimes we would just talk and share stories.
Once he told me, “I thought white people invented boxes and they were so important to them that I called them ‘box people’ when I was younger. On the reservation, my brother and I would run around outdoors all day; often when we ate, we ate outdoors; and in warm enough weather, we slept outdoors. But the white people ate and slept in their box houses everyday, as if they liked them. I really understood one day when I went to the white post office off the reservation; our mail was handed to us, and their mail went into perfect little boxes.”
Mr. Casey got laid-off and I moved on to teach in a university, but I miss our communal exchange.