Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wolfeboro Opening Faculty Meeting June 24, 2014

Short reading at opening faculty meeting, Wolfeboro Camp School, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Ed Cooper, Head of School.

I read this first piece at a faculty meeting at my old school, a day school in North Carolina, and realized that it might make more sense to a bunch of boarding school guys.


I tracked them down
On their school’s website,
Both of them teachers,
Their little girl growing up
In a boarding school dormitory,
As I had done, seventy years ago.
I wonder if people ask her
If this is really their home,
If they go somewhere else
When school is out.
There will be older girls
For her to idolize:
The three-point shooter,
The lead in the musical,
And others to make fun of her,
Unaware, teachers’ kids always on display.
She will have friends in town
But not be quite one of them.
In time she will come to terms with it,
Perhaps some Easter weekend years from now,
When her child is looking at schools,
And, like Frost’s mud-time men,
See there must be a place
That we should call home.

I want to read a Rust Pond piece, partly because it gives me a chance to hold up my new book After Labor Day. The picture on the cover is our cottage, which you’ll see when you go…


Quiet pond morning in July,
Kayak gliding alongside the past:
A pine tree, now bare, reaches out
Over the shallow bay;
Julys ago our girls
Stood here to pose, then bravely splash
Into the warm, yellow-sand lake, ankle deep.
On the hill we used to climb
The craggy overlook socked in,
Growth of dense green years.
Just as well:
The view we loved now shows
Other hills laid bare for condos.
I paddle home
Against a fresh breeze;
Shoulders that have seen seventy summers
Pull against water heavy with time,
Past the cottages of my father’s friends.

I don’t see anyone here of the right age, but you might keep this approach in mind at the point when you are…


Where he teaches
Pewter cups have replaced the gold watch.
The head of school considers them
A classy touch
But people smirk and roll their eyes,
Which he used to think unfair
Until recently.

And so he ponders:
I may decline the cup.
The years are mine:
I will not risk entrusting them
To summary or tribute.
I will slip away, like the old baseball man,
In the bottom of the fifth,
In a game that doesn’t matter,
One man out,
No one on base.

If you were at this meeting last June, and the Literary Festival, then this will be the third time you have heard this last piece. I want to read it again because I hope it speaks to the work you will be doing here this summer. It is in memory of George Greenwood:


Benches have been arranged,
A kind of tabernacle;
August light filters through
New Hampshire pines and oaks
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.

In your work here this summer, may you continue to find and nurture the poets of the future, the artists, inventors, leaders in business and government, and may great kindness come of it. Thanks very much.