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A teacher's thoughts as the new year calls



Poem by John Kelly


A teacher's thoughts as the new year calls


(I must go down to the seas again . . . John Masefield)


As the long and languid summer holidays -

every teacher’s annual retreat - near their end,

prosaic hauntings of bells, timetables, yard duties,

in-service sessions, fire-drills, staff meetings,

curriculum revisions, text selections, lesson plans,

assessment tasks, marking, reports, exams,

parent-teacher interviews,

and co-curricular commitments loom larger

than large to interrupt my reading

of the afternoon tide’s flow as it goes about

its unrelieved, efficient business to the beach. . .


Days shorten, time contracts, as school agendas

rise in gathering waves, break, surge, and cram

into the mind, intruding on the leisure

of swims, beach strolls, and jetty fishing,

and my marvelling at the blithe ease

of the local seabirds at their play

with wind drifts in a cloudless azure sky -

all too soon, it will be, for another year,

‘Good-bye’ to sprezzatura leisure. . .



Still, mercifully, I know I’m more than ready

when my thoughts turn to the real heart

of the new school year’s matter:

fresh students and adventures we’ll be setting out on

as we encounter stories old and new,

and engage with those who’ve written out

their hearts and minds to help us plumb

the treasure-laden depths of all

our graced, life-teeming world invites,

and what we humans are, and can become. . .





John Kelly is an Adelaide teacher whose third collection of poems A Schoolbag Full was released in 2021.

Topic tags: John Kelly, poetry



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Existing comments

Thanks John, the teachers' truth expressed with sprezzatura

Ian Frazer | 25 January 2023  

Lovely words, John, to remind us of vocation that is teaching. We wrench ourselves away from the long blue days of summer haze and to the task of shaping those who will come after us. This is so often much more than mere content and curriculum.

Ann Rennie | 25 January 2023  

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