Villanelle on the Opening of School

by Deana Chadwell    August 2008

(Prompted by Unequal Parts of Nostalgia, Relief, Guilt, and Admiration)

Today is the day of the sameness of faces
The day we begin to find out who they are —
By summer they’ll vanish leaving no traces

They clunk into their seats lugging very few graces
We imagine who’s trouble and who’ll be the star
But today we see only the sameness of faces

They gather before us from all different places
Some will pull inward, some stray out there afar —
Those in the back who just vanish sans traces

Through passion and pain our knowledge embraces
Those hungry young brains, both benign and bizarre
And slowly we vanquish that sameness of faces

Some new thing (that won’t work) this year replaces
Some old way of doing that can’t raise the bar
(Why does much of our work leave such pitiful traces?)

Yet the glimmer of learning — in almost all cases —
Lures us on though we know that there will be scars
We can’t vanish completely without leaving traces —
We’ll fight past the day of the sameness of faces
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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4 Responses to Villanelle on the Opening of School

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I like that one, Deana.

    Did you find typically that those who sat in the back were trying hardest to hide their faces? I usually sat all over (often in the back) but never in the front. It was certainly true that it was easier to screw off in the back. And the rowdier boys seemed to find their way to the back. But with many teachers, there was no hiding. Their x-ray vision saw all.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I don’t remember much about seating in my grade school or high school days, though we often tended to occupy the same seat (and I tended to go for the one closest to the door). That last continued into college; even in classes with plenty of seats, people tended to occupy the same ones even (perhaps especially) when they weren’t assigned.

    • Ha! That was always my goal — to see it all, but alas, the more electronic they got the harder it was to keep track of what they were up to.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I recall we were often seated alphabetically. When this was not the case, I think the main criterion for picking a seat at the beginning of semester was based on where friends or foes sat.

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