Day's End

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Day's End


My Last Class


6: 15 p.m. The students begin to trickle into the classroom. Then there's a surge, as if they're washed in by a wave, the room filled with sound.

6:30 p.m. I get their attention and introduce a case study through which they will demonstrate what they have learned, or not learned, over our 14 weeks. I raise questions and challenge their answers.  I'm delighted by their intelligence as they make meaning of the case, and disappointed as I perceive that in places they don't quite know what they're talking about.

8:30 p.m. The pace slackens, there's a pause like the one when the tide finally stops running in and begins to run out. I feel a bone-deep tiredness, see fatigue in their faces, their need to leave these stiff-backed wooden seats, to exit this stuffy room, to end it.

I congratulate them on completing the course and ask those who are graduating to stand. "You've worked hard for this," I say to those who are standing, "you shouldn't leave as if nothing significant has happened." We applaud them and in the swell of sound I blink tears away.

There's a final closing of the books, a cascade of noise and a rush of out of the room. A few stop to say that the course has made a difference to them.

8:45 p.m. I shut down the computer-projector, shovel papers into my worn briefcase, hear myself mumbling that I'm graduating too, that this is the last class I will teach. I am unable to blink the tears away.

low tide –
the beach empty
but for flotsam


R. Rasmussen, Simply Haiku, 3:3, Autumn 2005.