home room


    (with apologies to middle schoolers)

    I’m sitting between Gustav and Hanna
    in the homeroom of life, wondering how
    to make sense of everything coming through
    the loudspeaker, the stream of non sequiturs
    that passes for news and the endless storm
    of chatter that follows, each of us choosing
    sides without bothering much to choose our
    words. Life looks and sounds a great deal like
    a middle school cafeteria. Shouldn’t speaking
    our minds beg us to use our minds before we
    speak? Instead, our lunch table politics build
    allegiances based on fear or desperation or,
    for the lucky ones, popularity, none of which
    does much for real conversation: “Hello – and
    I really mean that.” We worry about hurricanes,
    but the small winds of breath that carry our
    words are more destructive. We wear labels
    like bunkers around our hearts and look only
    at those who look and act like us. We learned
    our vocabulary and jumped through all the
    right hoops, but face it: we’re seventh graders.



    1. Houston and surroundings have now experienced Ike and our chatter is all over the place. Thankfully most (95%) of the people with whom I have contact are grateful to be alive and have their homes. A few have damage that can be repaired – only one cannot repair the damage or comprehend their loss. We seem to take the moment to ask how each is really doing – not the cursory hi,fine sort of answer. Try care and concern happens even in seventh grade. 🙂

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