School. December 3, 2020

Today I was struck with a line  
Probably from 
a long-forgotten book or movie
I don’t remember the characters and
I don’t remember the setting

But I remember him or her saying
to him or her
“If you leave, I’m afraid you won’t come back
and if you do
I’m afraid I won’t know you as I once did”

That came to me as I was walking the empty halls at school 

No students
They are believed to be at home
It is hoped

No teachers
They are known to be behind their classroom doors
Locked away from the intruder
This is no drill

I am afraid

I am afraid
What I knew won’t come back
and if it does
I won’t know it as I once did

22 thoughts on “School. December 3, 2020”

  1. Tim, this is an incredible poem. I connect so strongly as I have been remote without in person students this year. I too am afraid of what’s been lost and what full in person school may look like in the future. Thank you for articulating these feelings so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments, Michelle. As things continue to change, I’m finding it harder and harder to remember what “normal” is. I’m hopeful for the future with the vaccine developments of the last week, but being optimistic is hard.


  2. Tim, your poem spoke to me about the fallible nature of memory, particularly memory under pressure- a feeling we have all had to deal with in this challenging year. It also spoke to me of change, inevitable change and how it confront and confounds us. Your words possess an introspectivity that gives voice to matters we all have experienced but may not have uttered. Thank you for sharing this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is sadness and loss this past year. Your poem speaks of this but hopefully we will rise from the ashes of this pandemic and feel wonder of learning together as we once did.


  4. My daughter who is in the admin of a museum has expressed this, too. She has had to hire online & met in person these new people only once, wonders how it will be “after”. Change can make us better & although memory might bring unrealistic expectations, I wonder if we won’t be so happy to return, that we will celebrate new beginnings. Beautifully written, Tim, and I am grateful for your awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, I appreciate your wondering about celebrating new beginnings. Events like this–few and far between–bring about change that is sometimes good. I’m hopeful that will be the case! Thank you for your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This poem is a gut punch. I’m teaching remotely and it’s my last year. I won’t have to experience it never being the same as before, but I also won’t experience the glorious reinvention (I hope) of in-person school.

    On a side note, we did have a safety drill on Friday for the students who are in hybrid mode. It felt so odd. All we did was lock doors and shut off lights. Students remained in their socially distanced spots. Why? Why was this necessary? Isn’t there enough trauma already?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mary Lee, I’m sad that you won’t experience what I also hope is a “glorious reinvention.” I do think there will be positive systemic change to education as we know it; hopefully we won’t try too hard to simply get back to where we were.

      Safety drills. Yes, there is enough trauma–we don’t need more.

      Thank you for your comments.


  6. You capture so very much in this poem, Tim. The students. Our teaching. The way we go about the world. All of these things HAVE gone away. For me, even if I don’t know them as they once were, I can only hope that I can learn to know who they are becoming in this new space being created for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comments, Lainie. We do have a new space, and–while they are different–we still have relationships with our students and our peers. I hope this strengthens our ability to connect, despite the obstacles we face.

      Liked by 1 person

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