On my way out
after an overheard phrase
I stare at the young
curly-haired or straight,
dark or light or auburn
moving on, eyes clear, certain.
Something is there before them.
A light. A door. A different shape.
Behind, a little way, someone bigger
is giving a child the right to explore.
Each boy and girl is on his or her way,
on the way to somewhere before them.
I smile, enjoying their sense of purpose.
The strut. The skip. The run. The speed!
Was I like that once? So certain.
Touching. tasting, talking, testing
boundaries. Refusing to hold a hand.
Intrepid. ‘Naughty’, my father said.
On my way out I want that sense
of certainty to be there a little longer
for each child I see. On my way out
I know it cannot last for very long.
All the uncertainties. Stumbles. Trips.
The impact of chance and change in ways,
so many ways, will intrude. On my way out
I say nothing. Just hope for the best for them.
Erica Jolly graduated from Adelaide University with honours in history and gained her Masters in English Literature from Flinders University. She taught and held curriculum positions in secondary schools for 40 years, has been elected to the Flinders University Governing Council and Academic Senate, helped combine various faculties and schools there, and supported the recognition of teaching. She has authored five books, two on South Australian educational history, two of her poetry, and ‘Challenging the Divide: Approaches to Science and Poetry.’