• David Youngblood

Shift Happens

Updated: Dec 8, 2019

End of Summer

-- Stanley Kunitz


An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.


I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones,

Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.


Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was over.


Already the iron door of the north

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.

There’s a distinct yet hard to identify point in the early part of the school year where the energy and flow of the daily concourse with among students and teachers and school shifts and leaves the season of summer and enters into the season of fall.


Walking to my car early one morning this past week, I felt it. A slight edge to the temperature--not quite enough to call it cool--but enough to be incrementally different, the fragrance of the possible change of season. Different too was my mindset as I made the short trip to the high school that has become a second place of residence. We were “in the year” now--routines were beginning to settle down, the rough awkwardness of that “getting to know you” part of the relationship between a teacher and his charge was now moving toward the dance that is the give and take of a classroom. We are all starting to find our way again.


I particularly like how Stanley Kunitz suggests this in the above poem, “End of Summer”. It strikes me as metaphorically true of the school experience. The “agitation of the air” that turns sharply, though not always seen, the summer of wish mutating into the school year of promise.


Teaching has a way of seeping deep into your bones, and odd and frustrating as the profession is most times, it also comes with a sense of reliable place.

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