Thursday, May 06, 2021

Poetry Friday -- To My Students

To My Students

I am the riverbank
and you are the water.
You flow past me
year after year
a little wild.

I do my best 
to ensure you
a safe passage
and teach you 
and the ways of the world.

But you rush on.

Time passes.
You return
to the familiar banks,
the remembered curves and shallows.

I will not know you,
and yet I will have
a deep memory of your passing.
Your passing
wore me down
changed my direction
made me new.

©Mary Lee Hahn, date unknown

Bridget has this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Wee Words for Wee Ones.


  1. I remember this one...and I even printed it out to put in everyone's mailbox one year right about now, toward the end. (Did I ask your permission for that?) It is So Perfect-the tension between flow and solidity, between banks and renewing erosion. I'm sending you another endings poem that I meant to offer last week, but it's all getting away from me.

  2. I love this metaphor of a river passing, wearing you down, changing you. Yes, each group of kiddos passes through. We get them at such a young age that we really rarely know who they eventually become. I love when a student turns up again, mature and well and oh so happy to see me.

  3. Isn't it true? I was thinking the other day about how my teaching changed across time. The teacher I was at the beginning was so different than the one I was years later. The children taught me so much. Funny how they thought I was teaching them, but they were teaching me. Ha! Your river analogy works perfectly. (This may be comment two. My first one just disappeared while I was typing.)

  4. Absolutely beautiful poem, Mary Lee. I love that the 'wearing down' that the river causes is a positive in order to 'make you new'. Swoon. :)

  5. So beautiful, Mary Lee! One of the best poems about teaching ever. :)

  6. Isn't this just the most beautiful picture of children that come into our classroom lives and flow out again. We ARE the ones changed. My goodness...I'm suddenly a bit weepy. Beautiful poem, Mary Lee.

  7. I just heard from a student, long grown & married, who told me that he & his wife just bought their first home. I knew him then but he has 'rushed on'. I love that idea at the end, Mary Lee, the passing that 'made me new'. It's a poignant poem and for teacher appreciation week!

  8. Your poem reminds me of the best reasons to teach. And makes me miss that. Having a class is just something special.

  9. So true. Their impact on us is forever.

  10. Your poem reminds me of a prayer/psalm, the call out
    ”I am...
    you are”
    Beautiful, the connection with a river, how it flows, changes, and especially your change at the end, thanks!

  11. I remember this one, and I had saved it, too. I was still teaching when I first read it, but I think I feel its power all the more now that I have been retired: especially that last stanza.

  12. Mary Lee, this is a poem to bring out for each school ending. There is truth in your words. Teachers are the solid ground and who watch the steady stream of students pass on by. The metaphor is strong as is the ending.

  13. Oh this captures the experience of teaching so well! Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem.

  14. This is a good one to revisit, Mary Lee! Thanks :-)


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