Every August, the principal gives
the same speech to the families
stacked on the gym bleachers.
Through this school comes our future,
senators, mayors, doctors, and lawyers.
He doesn’t mention through the school
also comes future plumbers, nurses,
and custodians, and there’s not a word
about the future thieves, deadbeats,
and arsonists, or that some of the ones
who go through do so with difficulty,
blocking the way like kidney stones
until they’re painfully passed. No one
points out a manager at McDonalds
or DMV clerk could say the same.
We go through the doors and halls
together then tell ourselves that we
we take the roads less travelled by.
But that speech comes later. In June.
In August, the parents sit, listening
and fantasizing one day their kids
will be mentioned as famous alumni
while, next to them, the children
wait, with varying degrees of patience,
knowing this isn’t really about them,
but eager to pass through towards
the unspeakable future that will be.
From Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet (Press 53, 2012).
Used with the author’s permission.