Crossing the Days

By James Scruton James Scruton
My son's been learning time: big hand
and little, powers of sixty
and of twenty-four, the slow semaphore
of days. He's brought home paper plates
from kindergarten, arrows pointing
at his favorite hours. So far
the face of every clock has smiled.

And before we read to sleep each night
he crosses off another square
on the calendar above his bed,
counting down to Christmas or to nothing
in particular, sometimes just a line
he draws uphill or down, check marks
like the ones his teacher leaves

on sheets he's filled with capitals
and lower cases, other times a pair
of thick lines like the crossed bones
on a pirate's flag, an X
as if to mark the treasure buried
in some ordinary week,
no day yet a cross to bear.

Source: Poetry (December 2002).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the December 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

View this poem in its original format

December 2002

Biography

James Scruton is the chair of the Humanities Division at Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee, where he teaches poetry and British literature. His poems have appeared in Mid-American Poetry ReviewEkphrasis, and Yankee, among other literary journals. 

Continue reading this biography

Poems by James Scruton

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Living, School & Learning, Youth, Parenthood, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.