a game//of chess, played (not so) straight forward, don’t underestimate the rabbit

i on my first schoolday...smiles

i on my first schoolday…smiles

it seems as if there is no context

Schultüte in bordeaux-red
i in a short pink checkered dress
on our first floor balcony


only that one pic exists

i make a serious face
trying to digest the weight
of education

did i walk in silence that first schoolday?
with a friend?
my parents?

between huge black towers that swayed slowly
side to side,
breathing myriads of stories

i remember clearly following the rabbit,
across polished wood floors,

the soft grey shine of concrete in the schoolyard
as the sun ran fingers over chalkmarks,
huge oak windows touching the sky majestically
with wrinkled forehead

despite the A’s
i lose key after key in tunnels
of equations

“what’s behind that next gate?”

master rabbit puts a furry paw onto the door knob

i didn’t think the world could be so vast
beyond apartment blocks, a sandbox
and a million letters later

i lay on my back
“i need a spaceship” i say, pointing
at the silver glistening sky
“you wanna join?”
the rabbit smiles
with wise and knowing eyes

&lifts his right paw
for the millionth time


for dVerse where we’re writing “School” today
will be a bit delayed with my commenting as i’m about to leave for a little trip to Strasbourg… see you later

29 responses to “a game//of chess, played (not so) straight forward, don’t underestimate the rabbit

  1. Divine little poem/story, Claudia! A serious face belies the imagination inside you. Who knew what stories the towers breathed, the sun had fingers, and that you would one day write a million letters (of poetry). The 3 R’s meet Alice in Wonderland…love how the keys, a rabbit and gates tie together to makeup those years of learning and exploring!

  2. The photograph is such a precious memory.. the contrast between the serious face and the huge Schultüte is a perfect starting point. I think you paint the understanding that some things are opening up and other doors are being closed, and our memories are so vague for some things. The chalk marks I remember too..

  3. I can find you in this one as well. Ha.Cute. I had never heard of a Schultüte. We dont do that. Education can be a rabbit hole for sure and open up so many new worlds when you turn yourself over to it. Education is the power, Unappreciated by too many. I like the texture of Alice.

  4. Really, what a cute photo! It seems even at that age you DID understand the ‘weight’ of education. Education is in some ways like following the rabbit – through its twists and turns, trying to find out just where it is leading.I am sure at that time you had no idea how vast the world could be….nor does anyone at that age. And cool that now the rabbit has those ‘wise and knowing eyes.’ He definitely led you well, Claudia!

  5. Claudia, you have hardly changed. I have seen many Schultüte on trips to Germany but have rarely seen one that was as big as yours. I wonder where this tradition comes from. Your words are a wonderful and creative illustration of the grown-up reconstruction of what was going on in your mind as a school child. Enjoy Strasbourg!

  6. Love your picture Claudia and the rabbit. My grandson begins 1st grade soon. I’m sure he has no idea about the weight of education yet. Nice that you did well in Math!

  7. in the wonderland of school…oh..you’re super cute Claudia!! :)…this concept of “Schultüte” is so new to me, full of goodies i suppose…wow…so very sweet, making the first day memorable…

  8. What an adorable photo – it looks like you werent that keen on going to school. LOL. I LOVE the rabbit, raising his paw, smiling with his wise eyes. With a companion like that, it would be easier to endure school. Loved this one, Claudia.

  9. Some brought imaginary rabbits & teddy bears & wooly sheep, others dragons, or tiny pieces of cuddle night-nights, but somehow we all went through our trial of socialization. I like your lines /huge oak windows touching the sky majestically/with wrinkled forehead/.

  10. That picture looks exactly like me as a little girl!!! Crazy. 🙂 Oh, hey. This woman walked into the gym who looked remarkably like you. I wanted to text you a picture from the elliptical, but we both know 1) I don’t have your number, and 2) I would have fallen over sideways, trying. 😛

    “Schultüte in bordeaux-red” … You don’t look too happy about yours in the picture. Awesome concept! But I guess you were either blinded by the sun in your eyes, or you weren’t very eager to get to school.

    “unToucHable” … Your caps make me imagine both “tush” and “touche.” So I’m imagining that you had to stand a lot, and also a reference back to the game (in the title). Fencing, as a metaphor. The pinch and poke tendencies of children to back-and-forth bully each other, even in friendly, seemingly “harmless” jest. But it’s never harmless, is it? None of it … thus the “ouch” inside “untouchable.”

    Perfect ending, though:
    “the rabbit smiles
    with wise and knowing eyes
    &lifts his right paw
    for the millionth time”

    How else are you going to endure the long, boring days than by engaging your imagination and really jumping into those story books? This is the whole point of education to me … learning to read and then disappear inside books. All the rest is fluffy nonsense.

  11. So earnest – a lovely picture, as if the whole weight of the world (and education) lies on your shoulders! And I like the way you linked it to Wonderland and a new world opening up ‘a million letters later’, the curiosity of opening yet another door and another… opens up a whole realm of metaphors inside me!

  12. I think its always fascinating looking back on photos of ourselves at school knowing now what lay ahead of us, what sort of people we would become. I love the imagery you use to paint a picture of starting that journey .. wonderful poem.

  13. You look adorable in the picture ~ And I like idea of following the master rabbit, opening doors to the vast world ~ I too like the spaceship, a great metaphor Claudia ~

  14. It wasn’t until I was put into private school that I was able to follow that grand white rabbit of curiosity down thousands of rabbit holes. You so look like you now! But you didn’t look that happy to be starting school. Glad the rabbit took care of you and you had such adventures. I just love the spaceship. that makes me smile.

  15. Reminiscence of childhood is one of the commonest themes of poetry, I guess ever since the days of Wordsworth and the Romantic movement. I like very much the way you have remembered how big and mysterious everything seemed, and how you use the almost Alice-in-Wonderland figure of a rabbit – your own curiosity? – to conduct you. The result is something very vivid.

  16. Hahaha! How the world changes when we follow that rabbit, treats wrapped up as tightly as the mystery of learning. I puzzled over the game of chess until I thought of this as the first move in a new game which is not endless. How I love the contrast of sun and chalk, indoors and outdoors and how they meet!

  17. I am glad that school was your wonderland Claudia – this is so adorable – when my daughter asks me questions on all kinds of things, I feel I have found my little Alice….

  18. I so love this and how very real to a little girl some things are and to you, no different than myself, those things help get us through. I saw the rabbit in this and thought of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The rabbit my favorite character in her mad cap world.