This thread began in early February when I described an assignment I had given my students in their poetry workshop in a small high school in Hawaii.
The theme of the assignment was alternate histories: imagining the What If questions of life — a tall order for high school students, but I have the privilege of teaching talented young poets!
The students heard, in light detail, how I’ve begun and finished different marathons in my life — fortunately for them, I did not recount the actual 21 marathons I’ve completed, but the many miles I’ve traveled to find the right home for my family and me. To land in Hawaii years after I first visited the islands in my early 20s, to navigate a career and marriage and parenthood, to even dream about reaching those milestones, I’ve had to be nimble and shake off more than a few stumbles!
I’ve wanted to impart to my students that life is full of possibilities even if the beginning of a marathon seems insurmountable when you are a teenager.
And they rose to the challenge!
To conclude the Teaching Moments thread of this blog (but not this blog itself!), I’ve saved the best for last: two additional student poems for today’s post. For their privacy, I’m not revealing the students’ last names.
by Lisa (student)
If I’d stayed in Eastern Europe, life wouldn’t be quite the same.
I would not have crossed the globe. I would have a different name.
Gone would be my Chinese tongue of my heritage.
Come age ten, my thoughts would be in Deutsch or Magyar instead.
Tonal vowels would make way for songs of a different kind,
Melodies in europäische Sprachen would light this story of mine.
What would boarding school be like if could go?
Would I visit Russia, finally see snow?
Perhaps I’d choose to play tennis over the grand piano,
Or be a pastry chef’s apprentice, and lose the spice I know.
Maybe my heart and mind would feel a different type of love.
Maybe I’d never see the glimmering teal ocean,
Hike a mountain, or catch fish flickering in a cove.
In spite of everything, my soul rests where I have been taken.
To my dear Budapest, Warsaw, Prague, Vienna,
Auf Wiedersehen, bis später!
An Alternate Place
by Sage (student)
If I lived in an alternate place,
I would not have to worry.
I would never know what was homemade curry.
It would rain all the time.
I would not be able to use dimes.
I would be having tea
And talking about Americans besides me.
Oh what it would be like to be overseas!