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A Retiring Teacher Says Good-bye to Jim in Huckleberry Finn
Edwin Romond


At first my classes complained
they couldn’t understand you,
your speech was foreign
language to their educated eyes.
But, as chapters peeled away,
the gold of your soul emerged
like moonlight in fog and words
like "loyalty and "goodness"
appeared in my room and
they were speaking about you,
Jim. Each school year I loved you
more and some nights I’d lie
awake wishing I could dive
into the pages and join you
and Huck on the raft floating
like a magnolia on the Mississippi,
away from the trash of hatred
on shore that makes us slaves
to ourselves. You soared above
dukes and kings and, by the end
of Chapter 43, we learned
who Huck’s real father was, learned
how love shines through any syntax
and warms the deep waters
of our hearts. Long after I leave
Room 115 I’ll still see you
steering through Missouri nights,
letting Huck sleep, standing tall
and noble, the brightest star
in the river’s mirror of sky.

From Dream Teaching (Grayson Books).
Used with the author's permission.


Edwin Romond  is a poet, playwright, and composer. Now retired, he taught English for more than 30 years in Wisconsin and New Jersey. Edwin's award-winning work has appeared in numerous literary journals, college text books, and anthologies, and has been featured on National Public Radio. His newest collection, Man at the Railing, from NYQ Books, recently won the Laura Boss Narrative Poetry Award. A native of Woodbridge, New Jersey, Edwin now lives in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, with his wife. Learn more about him at


Post New Comment:
What a beautiful poem. Makes we want to reread Huck Finn. Thanks, Edwin.
Posted 06/02/2011 03:31 PM
As a college prof who taught H Finn and The Mysterious Stranger every chance I got, I am very much in synch with the teacher in this poem. I wish I were still teaching and could share it with my students.
Posted 06/02/2011 12:51 PM
"The trash of hatred....that makes us slaves to ourselves" is just brilliant. A wonderful, honest poem.
Posted 06/02/2011 10:45 AM
Any poem that shows such detailed respect for other's work demands respect itself; Edwin make sme want to dive into Huck Finn one more time.
Posted 06/02/2011 08:02 AM
How absolutely perfect this poem is! I would have loved to have been in his class!
Posted 06/02/2011 07:58 AM

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