Evening All Afternoon



I don’t know why these lines from Wallace Stevens have always moved me so:

It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing

And it was going to snow.

The blackbird sat

In the cedar-limbs.

The day before yesterday, a student at my school, a junior, a beautiful impatient boy, died.

Adolescents are more or less flat-liners when it comes to perspective. In my acne-ridden days, I remember all too well stupidly thinking all too much depended on something that might happen at 4th period, or not, or after school, or not. Breaking up equaled deserts of vast eternity.

Back then, I was eaten up with Romanticism, could not imagine the longer view that year piled upon year provides, could not imagine the joys of a post-adolescent life, of discovering an intellectual passion in college, of meeting and marrying a soul mate, of producing children, of singing lullabies to them:

When you wake, we’ll paddy-paddy cake

And ride the shining little pony.

Today, weather-wise, it was evening all morning and evening at noon and even evening early in the afternoon. Outside my classroom windows, at nine a.m. the dense cloud cover made the morning look like nightfall. It was so dark streetlights were illuminated.

I was teaching Wallace Stevens. The students seemed to get it. “It’s like a cubist painting,” one of them said. “Different perspectives.” They had momentarily forgotten.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,

It marked the edge

Of one of many circles.