Gravitas and Gravity

Students on School Bus

For the students at the bus stop beside our house

The school bus stop sits

At the intersection of Grant and Barnett

Beside our house

And this morning four students (all girls)

Gathered on the sidewalk

In the early March chill

Wearing neither coat nor sweater

Holding their books to their chests

The way no boy would ever do.

One lanky fellow ambles up.

They do not speak to each other

But study the concrete

Sleepy, yawning, no doubt wishing

They were still in bed.

The yellow behemoth lugs up the hill

Pushing a rattling diesel signature

Before it.

I go out to collect the Post

And wave at the kids

As I always do if I’m out

When they are.

They stare at me,

Wondering who this person is

Up at such an ungodly hour.

They do not know that they are my people

And that I spent decades studying them in

Their natural habitat

And I would still be doing so were it not

For high stakes standardized tests

And absurd administrative policies.

As I think these thoughts, one boy

Runs down the hill and I smile

Thinking that the boys are always

Last minute.

Then, the as the bus is about to pull off

Another young man,

A sophomore by the looks of him,

Comes up the hill that makes

Older walkers stop to catch their breath.

He glides like a ballerina

Or a gazelle on the Serengeti Plains

And I watch his beautiful easy motion

With appreciation for something that I

No longer have.


When I taught, I started each class

With a Poem of the Day

And I toyed with the idea

Of doing that with these students

At this early hour

But decided not to since they

Won’t even return my wave.

Still, the urge to read “Mending Wall”

Or “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death”

To them is strong,

And so I have written this poem.

It is for you, my people.

And I want to say that I miss you,

Your sense of humor,

Even your drama,

Your mood swings

And your beautiful minds–

But don’t worry: it will all work out

Except when it doesn’t,

But if you survived whatever it was,

Take a break and catch your breath

And have at it again.

These words are from someone

Who knows you and has been

Around the barn a few times.

I hope for you

A good day with good conversation,

Engaging lessons

And something you like on the

Lunch menu,

And somewhere in there

Remember the man

Who waved as he picked up his paper

And next time think about waving back.


Dan Verner

March 3, 2016


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4 responses to “Gravitas and Gravity

  1. Funny. I sometimes find myself looking at kids I see and wondering about them and what they are doing. Interesting that, outside the classroom, we are of no interest to them. Could it be that, outside the classroom, outside of us, no one is interested in them? Are they as concerned as we about being overlooked?

  2. I think you’re absolutely right, Mary Mac. I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you.

  3. Becky

    I can only hope that they encounter a teacher like you. Some one who will have a positive impact on their life. Keep waving to them. One day one of them will be brave enough to wave back.

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