Day 11: Lanterns

In the dim classroom,

sliding towards solstice,

translucent paper is

cut into coloured squares—

arranged slapdash by one half

while the other struggles for order.

The smell of white glue on the tressel table,

caked on children’s fingers,

hardened under uncut nails

for mums to scrub and curse tonight.

A piece of red crepe, drenched and discarded

streams across the white plain.

The teacher and her assistant

orbit in opposition 

around the table and aprons—

cut shapes, recap felt-tip pens,

speak to disorder

as though words could smooth

the rough edges of our Christmas lanterns.

At last, lights raised,

we squint through the 

kaleidoscopic glass,

and see our Christmas futures 

slowly draw near.

Stuart Rawlinson is a British poet and musician, currently based in Brisbane, Australia. His poetry has been published in several publications including Black Bough Poetry, Nightingale and Sparrow, Wellington Street Review and Adelaide Literary Magazine.

9 thoughts on “Day 11: Lanterns

  1. Oh my goodness, this poem took me back! If it wasn’t lanterns it was paper chains or stars. It’s so true about one half of the class being slapdash and the other struggling for order and, in my experience, it’s still like that. I could smell and feel the glue, which I used to peel off – still do! Right down to the soggy red crepe, this is perfect, as is the ending!


  2. Such a different perspective of the holiday season through a classroom of young children. I felt like I was there with the glue and the soggy crepe paper–the teacher and assistant “orbiting in opposition.” Perfect ending, Stuart.


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