Poetry Friday: Farewell to My Students

What to say this week? My heart hurts. The images of pain and anguish are unbearable. But we must bear them. So much has been lost. We must acknowledge this loss and take steps to repair the damage inflicted by events of the past week. Make that events of the past four centuries.

I was filled with thoughts of all this loss as I searched for a way into the challenge Heidi Mordhorst set for our Sunday Night Swaggers this month. Heidi’s original challenge was to write a poem of farewell to our students, but she then encouraged us to say goodbye to whatever we needed to. In spite of, or perhaps because of, what has unfolded in our country this week, I do want to say this to my students.

Lost & Found

By the beginning of June,
the lost and found bins
are overflowing
with coats
and sweatshirts
and lunchboxes.

But this year,
those bins aren’t as full.
This year,
we lost
days,
weeks,
months,
of time together.

As we tiptoe cautiously
into summer,
these are my hopes
for you:

Lose your Google password.
Go outside.
Find a patch of grass.
Lie down.
Look up.
Find a cloud shaped
like a cat,
or an elephant,
or a whale.

Lose the unfinished homework.
Find a book that pulls you in.
Read for hour,
after hour,
after hour.

Lose your sorrow
over missed parties
and games.
Find joy
chasing butterflies,
blowing bubbles,
eating ice cream.

Never lose your memories
of our time together.

I will never lose
my memories of you.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2020

Fellow Swagger Margaret Simon is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Reflections on the Teche. Read what she’s saying goodbye to there, then visit our partners in poetry to read more poems of farewell.

Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Farewell to My Students

  1. The Lost and Found structure you created is creative and compelling, and your poem is so full of emotion. You remind me that within lost is the potential for found. I do hope we will find new ways forward in our country–ways to address long standing inequities and ways to craft a new path forward. I hope you’ll be sending your heartfelt poem to your students.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that your Lost and Found metaphor is so apt for this time: we are finding, learning how much was lost, taken from some of us, just in the middle of losing so much, each of all of us. That’s a crazy sentence, but I bet you know what I’m saying. YOUR poem says it much better for kids. I especially like the “Lose your Google” stanza. <3s to you and your students.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a touching poem, Catherine. I love the things you suggest should be lost (Google password, unfinished homework, sorrow) as much as the ones you recommend should be found.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a heartfelt goodbye and loving advice for your students facing a long and, I hope, not too difficult summer, about what to embrace, (good books and butterflies) and what to let go of.

    Like

  5. Bravo, Catherine! So touching…the lost and the found. I love how universal this poem is to all of us. We lost so much in the last part of this school year. But, we can find much in the summer. I’m picking up a book this weekend to get lost in.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Catherine, this poem made me tear up. It’s so you. Lose your Google password. Yes! One thing I have enjoyed about this time is watching birds. I’m showing Leo the birds. Are there more birds? Or are we just noticing them more?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. All of these goodbyes are so full of love, Catherine. I love the approach you took, to lose what’s really unimportant, to keep the very special. My younger granddaughter’s teacher (2nd grade) visited every student to bring them a ‘goodbye’ packet with a letter, a book & some other keepsakes. I so admire you & other teachers who’ve traveled this hard time with such creativity & energy, though I imagine you are all exhausted. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your poem is poignant as it reflects our students’ new reality. Much has been lost, but your words show how much can be gained:
    “Find joy
    chasing butterflies,
    blowing bubbles,
    eating ice cream”
    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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