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Wednesday, January 12, 2022


by Gary Glauber

This undated photo shows special education teacher Jennifer Graves, at Dr. Reginald Mayo Early Childhood School, in New Haven, Conn. When her classroom aide didn't show up for work and no substitutes were available for the day because staffing levels have been decimated by the surge in COVID-19 infections, she borrowed paraprofessionals from other classrooms for short stretches to get through. (Courtesy Jennifer Graves via AP) —US News, January 6, 2022

We ask them to identify global issues
at a time when their own lives are the global issue,
when identity comes masked and at a remove
measured and circumscribed for safety
according to the latest recommendations.
This remains a social place, as it must,
where exchanged ideas ignite the fires
that fuel internal growth alongside 
the social and the physical, and we bear witness
daily to the awesome and real act of becoming.
Now we are in a prolonged fugue, a limbo
wherein they better grasp the repetitive hopes
of Vladimir and Estragon, awaiting further instruction.
As news brings forth each sobering tidal wave
of rising numbers, it grows harder to pretend.
Every week brings a new normal.
Haggard-looking administrators roam hallways
with official clipboards of doom,
asking four questions to trace
the trails of those not virally passed over.   
And all the while we take attendance,
having learned to smile with our eyes,
and dispense daily lessons that pale
against these larger life lessons
that challenge and instruct us all.
Here in our smart modern classrooms
we muster the safest havens we can manage,
sharing screens and hearts and minds,
knowing that with each period’s gathering
comes a strong dose of social healing.
All pandemics come to an end,
the wisdom of the ages suggests.
Yet until that ancient saw becomes reality,
there’s a remedy called the classroom
that brings the dream closer, uniting us in wisdom.
With this new world comes higher order questions 
that Bloom’s taxonomy never considered.
Through shared crisis come unmasked truths:
together we feel shared love that helps us through
what often seems these most trying of times.

Gary Glauber is a widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. He champions the underdog while negotiating life’s absurdities. He has four collections, Small Consolations  (Aldrich Press), Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), Rocky Landscape with Vagrants (Cyberwit), and most recently, A Careful Contrition (Shanti Arts Publishing); and two chapbooks, Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press) and The Covalence of Equanimity (SurVision Books), a winner of the 2019 James Tate International Poetry Prize. A new collection will be forthcoming soon from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.