Ms. Schadenfreude's Anti-Valedictory
Of course, she was not chosen to deliver
any of the official hail-and-farewells. Would, in fact,
have skipped the whole pomp and circumstance crap
if the principal had not threatened to hold her diploma hostage,
if her parents had not pleaded with her to celebrate
the milestone for their sakes—so she donned
the rented robe, the dorky mortarboard, and paraded
down the auditorium aisles with her beaming so-called peers.
Lots of introductions. Lots of momentous occasions
and memories—many of which Ms. S was already
eager to forget. But she listened politely to the usual
promises of new beginnings, the exhortations to follow
dreams and change the world—even got a bit teary eyed
at the prospect that one of them actually might.
Then the ritual flipping of the tassels, the alma mater
one last time off-key, the filing out to hugs and congratulations
and vows to stay in touch she knew she’d never keep.
Ms. S had her eye on distant horizons, some vague
anywhere-else-but-here place where her brief past
could be erased and all the potential her teachers had,
for years, claimed she was wasting, would be realized,
where she would finally hear her life’s calling
calling her into the life she was meant to have.
The world, she thought, is my oyster.
Of course, being an inland girl, she had never
actually seen an oyster up close. Had yet to discover
how hard the damn things were to crack.
Copyright © 2018 Grace Bauer. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2018. Used with permission of the authors.
Grace Bauer is the author of several poetry collections, including, most recently, MEAN/TIME (University of New Mexico Press, 2017). She is the recipient of grants from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, among other honors. She is a professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Date Published: 2018-12-10
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/ms-schadenfreudes-anti-valedictory