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The Unconquerable Mountain

What toll does teaching have on us?

In her first poem for Nexus, Cate Knight reflects on why we do what we do.

With a fervour we follow the hill path,
That leads us up, up and away,
We climb with a vigorous focus,
To make higher inroads each day.


We pass every landmark and signpost,
Making notes on our journey’s ascent,
Not stopping to look back behind us,
Still pushing, still not quite content.


When tiredness and fatigue pervades us,
We carry each other up hill,
Looking only upwards and onwards,
Ploughing sky high further still.


Each stile we cross fades in the distance,
As our feet trudge this well trodden road,
Seeking summits of success unyielding,
As we struggle to carry our load.


As we reach each peak new ones appearing,
Like targets set high in the sky,
That mean stopping is never an option, keep climbing, don’t stop, you must try.


To reach the unconquerable summit,
And rest satisfied at its peak,
To fail is to say you are worthless,
To struggle to say you are weak.


So we march to where air is like gold dust,
Where our bodies are broken and bent,
And our brains are a husk of exhaustion,
Inspiration, motivation all spent.


Yet still there’s no spire in the distance,
There’s no bench upon which we can sit,
No end we can finally come to,
No place we can say “this is it”.


This journey has taken our future,
Our past and our hopes and our dreams,
As we strove to accomplish our mission,
So high up above though it seems.


We climb up this mountain together,
We struggled and still could not reach,
The targets forever still moving,
That will haunt you as long as you teach.

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The author

Cate has been a teacher for 20 years. She has worked internationally and across all key stages in the UK. Her secondary specialism is Performing Arts with a keen interest in PSHE/RSE. Cate is recently married with two cats who keep her busy and an allotment that requires more time than she can give it!

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