The Month that Turned into a Year

By Katherine Laufman

“Unprecedented
times”
said the Head
of School cautiously.
“…flattening the curve” could
also be heard as he began
releasing his
Middle School
students early.

Incurious about
“the curve”
and exuberant
at the thought
of time off
from school,
they are a winter flock
of Larks trilling,
breaking up in spring,
each off to their own nest.

Stirring like sea turtles
in unexpected waves, they return
to in person learning:
inches taller, hair longer, braces on,
braces off.

Safely spread six feet
apart, each sweatshirt clad, hair askew
youth an island marooned
by lagoons of blue masking tape margins.
Their teacher dynamically

miming behind a battered
plastic partition. All students cocooned
in fatiguing
face masks, stealing expressions
as varied as the cloaks sheathing their
breathing:

An N95 rising like a lone
Coyote along a lonely
Nevada landscape.

Cotton cloth with Koala’s,
banded behind ears, trendy,
but sadly lacking a filter
pocket.

A knit gator sagging like unpressed
elephant skin; a ski trip
remnant from

before the pandemic. Its owner
squinting, foggy glasses
spotting only outlines of cloudy
equations.

The final bell is momentarily
magnetizing: breaching six feet
is easy
for these exotic Mandrills,
set free into a world
not yet ready
for their
levity.

Katherine Laufman is a Special Education Teacher and has a B.A. in English from Colorado State University. She is enjoying her renewed fascination with poetry after a 28 year hiatus. 


This poem is inspired by my 12 year old daughter and her friends who struggle with both In Person and Virtual/Distant learning in Sacramento, California. Both models have presented challenges and neither is optimal. One year into the Pandemic, my daughter continues to attend school virtually.

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