Very familiar September seemed:
A flag-pole stood in the yard,
And the little path that led from the road
Was trampled bare and hard.
A bell hung high in the little tower,
And when the door swung wide
They saw a young woman with pen in hand,
Writing away inside.
The young woman rose and came smilingly to the door. A clock somewhere
inside struck nine, with quick, sharp strokes.
It sounded so familiar, somehow, that the children cried in alarm, “Oh,
it’s time for school!”
“Not quite, for you scholars,” the teacher said. “But folks and things in
there”–she nodded toward the schoolroom–“are ready and waiting.”
Amos and Ann peered past her through the door, but they could see nothing
except desks and seats.
“I suppose Columbus has sailed, by this time,” remarked the Journeying
“Oh, yes,” the young woman replied. “Furthermore, the Mississippi is
flowing into the Gulf of Mexico as hard as it can, and rice is growing in
The children understood, now, and they were both laughing. “Are the
prepositions and adverbs in their places?” they asked.
“Multiplication tables set, I suppose?” said J. M.
“Certainly,” the teacher answered. “And the tables of weights and
measures, too. And many things are here in addition.”
“How,” asked little Ann, “do the children in Zodiac Town know when it’s
time for school to open?”
“Just the way the children in any other town know,” the teacher replied.
“When bees and birds and butterflies
Have grown a little lazy;
When flowers are rare, with here and there
A late rose or a daisy;
When streams are slow, and water’s low
Down in the swimming-pool,
And grass burns brown along the lane,
And goldenrod is bright again–
There’s something tells you just as plain,
‘Time for school!’
“When apples in the orchard lot
And pears come thumping, falling;
When sweet and clear, far off and near,
The bobwhite’s voice is calling;
When crickets trill out on the hill,
And dusk comes quick and cool;
When all at once, in midst of play,
You can’t remember what’s the way
To multiply–you stop and say,
‘Time for school!'”
A clock boomed ten with a familiar sound, and Ann and Amos jumped.
“I almost thought we were an hour late for school,” Ann said.
“September’s a rather funny month,” Amos remarked. “It ends so many things
and it begins so many things.”
“I like to come home at the end of summer,” little Ann said. Then, without
waiting at all for a clock to strike she swung into a poem:–
“When we travel back in summer to the old house by the sea,
Where long ago my mother lived, a little girl like me,
I have the strangest notion that she still is waiting there,
A small child in a pinafore with ribbon on her hair.
I hear her in the garden when I go to pick a rose;
She follows me along the path on dancing tipsy-toes;
I hear her in the hayloft when the hay is slippery-sweet–
A rustle and a scurry and a sound of scampering feet;
Yet though I sit as still as still, she never comes to me,
The funny little laughing girl my mother used to be.
“Sometimes I nearly catch her as she dodges here and there,
Her white dress flutters round a tree and flashes up a stair;
Sometimes I almost put my hand upon her apron strings–
Then, just before my fingers close, she’s gone again like wings.
A sudden laugh, a scrap of song, a footfall on the lawn,
And yet, no matter how I run, forever up and gone!
A fairy or a firefly could hardly flit so fast.
When we come home in summer, I have given up at last.
I lay my cheek on mother’s. If there’s only one for me,
I’d rather have her, anyway, than the girl she used to be!”
“That’s pretty good,” said Amos critically. “I like–“
Before he could go on, a little crystal clock struck four. So Amos had to
fall a-rhyming again. He stood on his head and illustrated the last two
lines of the rhyme.
“I like to have vacation,
I like to camp and roam;
But mostly, in a curious way,
I like the coming home.
“Our old house looks so solid,
So settled and arranged;
The front gate creaks the same old creak,
The chimneys haven’t changed.
“Those weeks of sea and mountain
Had many valued points;
But oh, this loosening of my bones,
This limbering of my joints!
“Our old dog comes to meet me
With something of a smile–
I wheel right over on my head
And wave my legs a while.”
(Nancy Byrd Turner)
More Poetry from Nancy Byrd Turner:Nancy Byrd Turner Poems based on Topics: Man, Place, Children, Time, Education, Nature, Home, Garden, Literature, Poetry, Fairy
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- June (Nancy Byrd Turner Poems)
- April (Nancy Byrd Turner Poems)
- Zodiac Town (Nancy Byrd Turner Poems)
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Based on Keywords: pinafore, illustrated, multiplication, critically, dodges, adverbs, hayloft, like-, swimming-pool, bobwhite, prepositions