Friday, June 22, 2012

The Blackboard

(Ecole St. Louis School, Sister Severina/Caroline Ciatti)


C hick Evens moved heavily out of the back playground, adjacent to the school, Ecole St. Louis School, built in 1886, a decorative French School, in St. Paul, Minnesota, it was autumn, and the winds were chilled, the kids were having recess, Sister Severina, called Evens from the backdoor, motioned for him to join her in the classroom.
       —You are one of the wildest boys I’ve ever met, I can’t read your name off your paper: print your name on the blackboard fifty-times, she said, looking at a sheet of paperwork he had done and his name hardly legible.
       —Where? Asked Chick Evens.
       —On the blackboard in front of you! Responded sister Severina sternly, a little annoyed.
       The other kids that were already in the classroom bent over their writing pads, some filled their fountain pens with ink, as Chick kept writing down line after line his name. A silence filled the half empty classroom, a few kids looking timidly at the nun, her dark attire. It was hard for Evens to be idle, to concentrate at times, was that a sin? He questioned. He really didn’t know, he just couldn’t sit still to write his name properly—long enough, or cared to one way or the other, waiting for recess so he could get out his boiling energy, and that in itself was a lot of work just to keep his body seated. I mean if it was a sin, he’d simply go to confession, but it was part of his character.
       The doors opened quietly and closed quietly, as more kids were coming in from outside.
       —Quick! Emphasized Sister Severina…looking at Evens, and then started counting heads
       there was a long moment of dead silence, then the noise of the back end of a pencil on glass, it was the glass that covered her desk. Chick’s eyes leapt to the side, Sister Severina had gotten his attention, had gotten everyone’s attention.
       —Finish it after school, she said to Evens, now go sit down, take your place at your desk.
       Again there was a long silence as Evens walked back to his desk, nonchalant—his normal causal gait.
       —Anyone that can’t write their names down with clarity, lazy writers, will find themselves writing their names out on the blackboard; now let’s get busy with this afternoon’s studies…

No: 925/6-17-2012

Haiku for Sister Caroline Ciatti

Memories shine of her in the sunlight
Of youthful days (1950s)
At Ecole St. Louis School…

For: Sister Caroline Ciatti (died: August 8, 2006)