Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wolfeboro Opening Faculty meeting June 25, 2013

On June 25, 2013, I did a brief reading for the opening faculty meeting of the 104th session of the Wolfeboro Summer Boarding School, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Ed Cooper, Head of School.


I ascribe human attributes,
To our cottage on the pond,
And why not:
Four generations of
Idiosyncratic postures,
Favorite chairs,
The smiles of grandsons
Around each corner,
In every splash off the dock,
Scent of decades of pine rooms,
My father’s shaving brush,
Memories in other artifacts
We did not buy.

So when we leave,
Packing up board games
Along with Beth’s shy grin,
We ease out onto the lane,
Regret visceral
Until about the Massachusetts line.
The cottage, at first forlorn,
Has figured out what’s going on,
Recognizes the red kayak,
An intruder in the guest room,
But, relaxing under its cover of
Newspaper, moth balls,
Frayed bedspreads,
Like an old bear we know,
Dozes off for the winter.

First Place, Spring 2013 Contest
Poetry Society of New Hampshire


Yellow pollen no longer lies thick
Upon the surface of the pond
But lingers suspended like Kool-Aid;
Tiny cones falling, their seed spilled,
No need to stain the deck until they stop.
Thermometer dangles in the water,
Says 71 this morning.
Here is what it means:
Not long until the Congregational Church
Swells with harmonies of pride
(Patriot dream, beyond the years),
Not long until our grandson
Bursts the silence of a July morning
With a cannonball off the end of the dock.

A couple of school poems. The title, "The Headmaster" is not a current usage and tells you this is not about someone any of you has ever known. But you may have run across someone like this in your travels...


He knew all the students,
Would call them by name,
Walking across the quad
Between ivied classes,
Tried to say to each
Something cheerful, personal:
Good game last night, Phil,
Or: Liked your op-ed piece.
He went to their concerts,
Their debates and swimming meets.
He thought they liked him.
It came to him later,
When he was working somewhere else,
That his best love
Had gone into the spam folders
Of their adolescent hearts.

Let me close with something more upbeat, which in fact bears upon your work here this summer. Last August I was privileged to participate in the Greenwood Literary Festival, a wonderful experience, and wrote the following piece, which appeared in last summer's edition of The Rust Ponder.


In memory of George Greenwood

Benches have been arranged,
A kind of tabernacle;
New Hampshire pines and oaks
Filter August light
As if through stained glass.
We have gathered for a reading
And note the absence of
Fathers and mentors,
Teachers and friends,
How they would have urged on
These young people, seeking after
Poetry, in words new to them.
I tell the dark-haired boy:
You have written a poem;
That makes you a poet.

Some of you may remember that last June I read a poem by Howard Nemerov titled "September, the First Day of School," which ends with the words: "But may great kindness come of it in the end." For your work here this summer, I wish you much success, that you will come upon new poets, and that great kindness will come of it. Thank you.

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