Macy Marks and the Bonsai Tree

Apple to Apple

I once killed a bonsai tree, the most unusual plant I’ve ever owned and a gift from my husband. Bonsai is one of the most intricate forms of gardening, an art that invites you into a world of different dimensions. The aesthetics and techniques and tools are specialized and sophisticated. My bonsai tree died because I treated it like I treated my other houseplants: water once a week along with a dose of Miracle Grow.

And I liked to teach in the same way I cared for my plants—to make a system and expect my students to fit right in. Only Macy Marks didn’t. Sometimes, seeing terrors other students didn’t see, Macy huddled under the corner table, leaving her essay unwritten. Or in a class discussion, she’d hone in on a matter of injustice, say the internment of Japanese who were U.S. citizens during World War II, and not let…

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