A published author and poet, WVFC poetry editor Laura Baudo Sillerman (seen here addressing our Time of Your Life benefit in March) is also president of a New York City-based charitable foundation and an active board and committee member for many educational and literary organizations, including the American Museum of Natural History, The 92nd Street Y Poetry Center and Poet’s House.  Below is Laura’s response when we asked for thoughs about that September tradition, the return to school.

Back to School

For years, my mother dressed me in her idea
of what a proper girl should wear
something too hot for early September
and not cool enough for my classmates.

When finally I collected two friends, we chose
shoes that weren’t sensible, stopping for sodas
on the first day of junior high because
the walk home in our desires raised blisters.

By the time I got the trigonometry of self
I was gone from there, from the anxiety
of the endless first days of where I couldn’t fit–
no matter what I wore or how I invited hurt.

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  • Beverly Schwartz September 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I don’t know very many people who are always able to be “gone from there,” from trying to fit. It gets less urgent to fit, and the “fits” are not now about clothes–but there are always moments of anxiety about one’s place in the world. The junior high experience is perhaps the most highly distilled–because it seems to hinge on the simple matter of dressing right to “get it right.” If only it were that simple. Maybe we all could have gotten it by now. A lovely poem.

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  • Marsha Howard September 4, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful poem that reminds me of all the first days–then and, alas, still. This should be distributed to every “uncool” girl , the cool ones and the women they grew/grow up to be.

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  • margo viscusi September 4, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Oh Laura! What terrible memories, and in your case so perfectly expressed. “It’s the first impression that counts,” the adults told you, and in my public high school there were 5,000 students all trying to make the right first impression on each other without seeming to care. What self-absorption, what anguish. I’d rather go to hell than return to high school. Margo

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  • Beth Foote September 4, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I love the line “trigonometry of self.” That’s very nifty.

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