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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 2, June 2013

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Jaclyn Jones
Chatham, Illinois, USA


Higher Learning

11:30 a.m. Students stream from class, like a river raging, newly undammed. The tick tock of the antique wall clock echoes in the lecture hall. I gather up my lesson plan and escape. Outside, students are laden with backpacks brimming with laptops and heavy books. Teachers with jaws tense clutch satchels. They are hurried, harried, eyes vacant, walking in solemn cadence, as if in funeral procession. To a requiem for childhood dreams.

Comforting aromas of meat loaf, garlic mashed potatoes, and pepperoni pizza waft over the cafeteria lunchtime clamor. I overhear caffeine-fueled students recounting sleepless nights evidenced by dull, bloodshot eyes. Meanwhile, rushing teachers abandon trays topped with half-eaten roast beef on rye, rosemary chicken and rice, and soups still steaming.

11:55 already?! The reality of time interrupts my meal, my observations, interrupts . . . me. With a sigh of resignation I push back my own plate and compel a smile to my face. On to lectures, meetings, and grading, grading, Grading!

Afterschool. Lakeside park bench and warm, spring sun offer a momentary reprieve. My son loses himself in games of tag, swinging, and teeter-tottering. The children’s laughter overshadows the dizzying whirr of the merry-go-round.

In the distance, smooth stones skip across the water’s surface . . . I recall my own carefree summer days: frolicking in foamy sea, waves gently pounding against my back. Grainy brown sand between my toes, and in my bucket as I build sandcastles with my brother. A chorus of seagulls as they compete for our crumbs of bread.

beach trips
laughter echoes
from summers past

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