Sunday, September 9, 2012

senior sunrise

So, remember how I went to school at 5 am on Friday? Here's the story.

To honor and celebrate our students as they begin their senior year, the school organizes what is called "Senior Sunrise." It is what it sounds like⎯seniors come very early, as do their loving and wonderful teachers, and we all eat and speak and listen before we watch the sun rise. It was a very emotional and beautiful event. I was particularly moved because this very well may be the last year I am at this school, and because this year's seniors are nearest and dearest to me. Looking out at the sea of faces, it hit me that we only have a few months together before they leave to start their lives without me.

I wrote a poem for the senior class, which is included at the end of this post. I don't usually share my poetry online (perhaps I'm paranoid?), but I think I want to start doing so more often. I wanted this to be retrievable by any senior who wishes to have it. I hope you enjoy it, too.


Class of 2013

When I think of the beginning, I imagine
first darkness. How quiet it must have been

all those atoms huddled together
hot and brimming with unbridled energy

craving the space. In the womb
one cell lonely, then two, a swarm

silently changing shape in the shadow
beneath a mother’s hand pressed to the skin.

There is solace in the knowledge
that everyone started off as nothing

bigger than the tip of a pin,
that everyone has known

a level of darkness. I did not know
you then, and maybe still do not.

You who has shed weight and gained names,
who grew a foot over the summer

who dyed your hair pink as the sky
just before darkening. You are different

from the solicitous self that once was
made to march out the door again

and again your freshman year, until
you managed “quiet” perfectly well

different from the sophomore who believed
to know everything, from the junior

who wanted to know nothing at all—
when you were born, your mother saw

the light in your eyes and claimed it
could never be matched by any glow

on this modest earth, she said
there had never been anything

so perfectly alight.

Years from now, you will be someone
unrecognizable—your whole

self altered moment by moment, cell by cell,
the person I address now will be discarded

like a dusted coat hung gently
in the closet and touched briefly, but never worn.

I imagine the moment before light as painful
ly still, but in reality, there is no warning.

The atoms quivered and drifted inch by inch
to claim their own spots in the universe, to become

their own suns. Who watched the first
rising of the violently burning body

and deemed it beautiful? We know
the last sense developed before birth

is sight, your body suspended in the body
of your mother realizing there is still more.

Light crested over the dome of mother
earth, dawn soft and inevitable as breath.

The moment before seeing,
dark was so familiar, but then at once you saw

and you could not look away, you could not.

© Leila Chatti 2012. All rights reserved.


  1. that's really a nice event - it's a great idea and really nice that you care about your students so much. it's really not as often as i wish that you find teachers who truly enjoy it and love teaching like this - and your poetry is wonderful! i do hope you continue to share it

    <3 katherine
    of corgis and cocktails

  2. It's a great idea to have this event. Your poetry is beautiful and I would love to read more of it.

  3. What a great idea and lovely event to honor the seniors and kick off the year. I think schools need to do more events like this where the class and teachers really come together as one.

    Your poetry is beautiful Leila. I really love your writing style :)

  4. This is such a nice event! btw, I now follow you on GFC, hope you can visit my blog and follow me back if you like, cheers..


  5. Loved the poem! I am a big poem person. :)

    And thanks for the comment! I would wear bows everyday if i could!


  6. These images are breathtaking. I adore the lighting. Stunning.

  7. I love the poem! I read poems like all day.



Comments make my day⎯really! I love reading what you have to say. Hope to hear from you. :)



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