11 May 2010

This Year's Senior Poem

Two Lanes: On Your Graduation

One hour from now you will
emerge from these robes,
listen to the congratulations of people you don’t remember,
and fly in a swirl of celebration.

Forty years from now I will,
with trembling hands, fumble through yellow papers
and find this, and pause, and try to remember now.
“I think I know who they are…” I will say,
And I will miss my mother.

One year from now you will
come to visit your high school
and watch new players fill the old roles.
“Do I really have to wear this visitor’s tag?” you will say.
You’ll wonder at how like children we are.

Twenty years from now I will
slowly set my books into a cardboard box,
take down the diplomas, and look at my wife.
“Maybe now we can take time for us,” I will say
as if it had been a sacrifice.

Five years from now you will
straighten the creases of your best suit
and wonder if the air conditioning is working.
“What I lack in experience I make up in loyalty,” you will say
during your first real interview.

Ten years from now I will
regret to inform you that I cannot
attend your wedding because it falls
on the same day that I take my child to college,
and you will remember—it seems like yesterday—
each time you were left at school.
“I understand,” you will say, and then forget it,
as you should,
because you can only think of the beauty of every minute detail of your love.

Five years from now I will
wonder if all fathers of teenagers
grip the inside door when their children drive.
“Would it hurt you to just slow down a little?” I will say,
and I will mean it in two ways.

Twenty years from now you will
see the mother and father of it all as you
hold the infant reverently.
“I didn’t know love felt this deep,” you will say,
and trace the edges of her fingers.

One year from now I will
write another poem for another class
and remember this moment
“Every year I write a poem for the senior class,” I will say.
Many of them will forget it.

Forty years from now you will look in her eyes,
and it will make full circle sense.
I didn’t know happiness could hurt this much, you think, but you say, “It happened when I wasn’t looking,”
and you will know that there is nothing more beautiful
than a bride who will always be your little girl.

One hour--
two hours—
three hours—

I have no idea what I will be doing.
I have no idea what you will be.
I have no idea what I will.
I have no idea what.
I have no idea why
or when.
There is only who.

I know the three, like ancient fates
who always surround us looking over our cribs
with holy tears:
Faith who carries us like children crying for home.
Hope who encourages our adolescent spirits to be free.
And Love who waits for us with Father arms to
smooth our hair, to kiss us, to tell us the storm has gone.

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