Dichotomy #3 by Abdulaziz al Loghani. Brett JordanCC BY

Our greatest national resource is the minds of our children.

—Walt Disney

When they are hungry

who would give them rocks

When they cry for a spark

who would spew water

When they strive to see

who would deploy smoke and mirrors

When they would fly

who would clip their wings

When they desire to go further up, further in

who would confine, constrain

When they crave autonomy

who would demand automatons

When their differences resemble a separate peace

who would distill a disparate piece

When the lengths they must travel are not equidistant

who would mistake equality for equity 

When they carry fragile fragments of hope within

who would build a diehard dystopia without

When they begin to perceive diversity as a gift

who would wrap it in sameness

When they aren’t the same

who would construct uniform boxes

When they would breathe

who would affix a lid

When the scraping of the adze and the hammering cease

who will hear the sound of fingernails

from inside

the casket of our dichotomies? 


Note: If you read “they” as children, try reading with “they” as teachers.


Literary allusions: Matthew 7:9-10 and Luke 11:11-12; The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis; A Separate Peace, John Knowles; Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell; The Giver, Lois Lowry; To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner.

23 thoughts on “Dichotomies

  1. so much to think about, and I love the teacher/student substitution at the end….. The equitable rather than equal message is so needed….and attempts to be color blind only make us blind……to the richness of our differences

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness, this poem gave/is giving me chills. I feel this in my bones and your invitation to re-read it understanding “they” as teachers, adds another layer of WOW. Congratulations! This poem works from beginning to end. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is poignant. I get the Faulkner allusion (one of my favorite writer) and many others. I had a conversation w/ a young colleague about many of these ideas last night. Sadly, it’s often other teachers who get in the way of those who seek to break out of the ties that bind. We don’t like to talk about it in education, but among many there is a culture of mediocrity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Powerful! Thanks for suggesting we switch voices and read again. I found myself forgetting to breathe as I read… and then your concluding lines totally took away my breath. Thank you, Fran.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Did these amazing thoughts and words come to you in parts over time or all at once? Either way – total inspiration. So much to think about here. And not just with children and teachers, although that dichotomy itself is intriguing. But isn’t this the way of the world these days?

    Liked by 1 person

    • First – thank you for this response! In a moment of despair months ago, the idea came to me. I started and stopped it numerous times. So it came in bits and pieces … I feared I’d never finish it. Yes, there’s many opposing forces at work in the world, for sure – and people who pay the price,

      Liked by 1 person

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