School Bus Paradox – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 2

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School Bus Paradox

As I look out the window,

I see it lurch by

Hear the brakes screech and the

Belch of its engine.

Garish-yellow

It’s a cartoon monster on

Our rural, sleepy road.

Society says

I am to rouse my children early

Feed, shine, and hug them,

And then feed them to the bus.

But here,

Everyone was up late,

Learning and living,

A family alive together in the wee hours.

And now, asleep,

They know nothing of the bus.

I, myself

Was gobbled up by the bus,

On this same sleepy road.

My mornings were

The rushrushrush of the deadline-

The moment of gobbling

I was not allowed to miss.

It was the law,

Non- negotiable, unquestioned.

Children went to school.

It was our job.

And that was that.

So each day

I was fed to the cartoon monster

Chewed up and trapped

In the gaseous, sickening

Innards of the beast.

I went

Without protest or question.

I sacrificed my Self.

To get the job done.

And so, today

I watch the belching beast lurch past

And it is as though it

And my peacefully sleeping children

Who have never been gobbled

Are both natural and alien

In the same instant.

Jeremiah and Annalise, ungobbled on a school-day October Thursday afternoon, 2011.

 

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6 thoughts on “School Bus Paradox – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 2

  1. Shah Wharton says:

    You are so right with this – its message and its word choice. I clearly felt the image of a hungry monster gobbling up unsuspecting children and it had the desired affect of making me want to scream – No – take them back home. (I loathed school and lost a huge part of me to it which has only recently been restored, although no doubt with the best bits missing in action. X

    • shanjeniah says:

      Shah –

      I liked school. I played the school game well, although I was often bored. It was somewhat safer than home, for me. I was not likely to get whipped or have my face screamed in there.

      Still, I, too, lost a good deal of me there, and the most healing I’ve found is in not sending my own children to such a place, and seeing how absolutely themselves they are.

      Their freedom heals me. =D

      Thanks for stopping by to commnent!

  2. Anna says:

    I really enjoyed this one…especially the build up in the beginning toward that wonderful line about society’s expectations and feeding your children to the bus. I think it’s especially clever because the line could so easily end at “feed them” keeping it light and normal but instead you continue the sentence and twist that cliched image of breakfast time into something new and interesting. Really nice word-work there!

    • shanjeniah says:

      Anna –

      Thank you!

      The ironic thing is that we seldom eat breakfast. We are a family of grazers, and tend to not want to eat until we’ve been up an hour or two…

      Without that race to the bus, the chaos I remember, people here – all of the people here – can eat what they are hungry for, when they are hungry. There’s no need to push food on them, so that they will be “productive and focused”…they are living, and learning, in the way that suits them best. That tends to lead to a lot of productivity and focus, although not the type I remember school valuing.

      In the end, seeing the bus makes me smile, and also feel a little sad for all the kids who get gobbled up and spat out by it each day…and who don’t have the freedom to live as they choose.

  3. Lena Corazon says:

    Shan, I really love that one. So many good phrases in this, but especially the “gobbling up” of the schoolbus. So vivid, and so strong, too. That “rushrushrush of the deadline” was my childhood, and I’m just now trying to find ways to unlearn that. Beautiful piece–it gives me hope!

    • shanjeniah says:

      Thanks, Lena!

      It didn’t make the poem, but I woke again as the afternoon bus went by. Jim and the kids had gone out to a junkyard and an auto parts store – we bought a very inexpensive used car last week, and it needs a bit of work before it will pass state inspection – out to lunch, and to a playground.

      I was thinking about how school claims to prepare children for life – and yet, Jeremiah, Annalise, and all other children are already living, already experiencing life as completely as any adult – and schools, in general, seem to miss this, somehow, as they herd and cultivate children…

      I am profoundly grateful that Jeremiah and Annalise are not being prepared for life, but are instead engaged with their lives, and free to simply live them. I know school and school buses are not natural or necessary for children to learn and grow.

      And yet, as a person who rode that bus’s predecessor on this same road for 13 years of my life, there is something about how we are living that sometimes feels a little like a fantasy…

      Both kids say they will unschool, if they have children. If they do, that bus will maybe never be a paradox, to them.

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