Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Old High School Year Book

I recently came across this delightfully nostalgic poem by Robyn Sarah, and had to share it.

The words themselves, plus this particular time of the year, left me daydreaming for a few quiet moments of my years at Jesse Stuart High School, in Valley Station, Kentucky, so long ago. Those times were, in truth, frequently frightfully brutal and emotionally oppressive for me. Not a happy time.

Still, somehow reading this poem smoothed out some of the brittle wrinkles, recalling a simpler time of self-discovery, first loves, and the beginning of the smoldering, growing ambition for the path I would eventually pursue. And, I'm reminded that, just perhaps, high school wasn't so horrible.

At least, not always.

Read now, and remember.

by Robyn Sarah

The yearbooks are out today, with the ink
barely dry on their gleaming pages,
the faint puke-smell of the new bindings.

On the bus, shagged and curly heads converge over
the disappointing spread of candid shots
on center facing pages - random snaps
where everyone who matters is blurred or too tiny
or was looking the wrong way when the shutter clicked,

and after they've each checked out their own
and each other's mug shots, and those of an acknowledged
hunk or two ('Too bad guys, doesn't he look
retarded in that picture?') you can almost
feel the thought rise: Is that it then?
four years reduced to this thin, already-
thumbed album of postage-stamp grins
and badly cropped halftones in a grey collage
of moments no one remembers?

Tomorrow they'll tote it back to school though,
to whip from their graffitied bags
in the mandatory feeding frenzy
for autographs — everyone's, please.
Now and only for a second
is let-down palpable in the air,
like a half-formed bubble wobbling
on the wand, then sucked back.
In a moment they'll swarm to their feet
and pull the bell (each at least once)
as they stream for the door, flashing shoulder-
freckles, wrist-bangles, navels like thumbprints in
June-white midriffs, damp wisps at the nape
wafting back a fine vapor
of girl sweat and spray cologne.

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