Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sophomore

I cried this morning because I had to miss my classes.
My brain refused to sit
in a room with other people and hear a dry lecture.
it threatened to cry or faint, till finally I had to leave.
My neck and shoulders were so tense I thought they were turning into stone.
My head was like a drum,
throbbing.
Grades are lower than they've ever been
(not very low--c minus--you should be happy, says my roommate,
but I am a perfectionist).
I'm not dumb, not a bad student, really I'm not:
my brain is sick, scared, sinking in a mire of chemicals and hormones all awry;
it balks at my commandment to read this or study that.

I walked back to my dorm this afternoon
(back from another flunked quiz)
under grey clouds, and watched
the rain begin to fall, pecking the ground,
black spots on grey asphalt. One yellow flower
stood out on the grey like a word of hope,
a spring of water in a desert,
a splotch of color in a sepia world.
I wondered vaguely, as I passed, how it came to fall there, in the middle of the pavement,
no other flowers around;
then I turned, pulled back somehow, and bent to pick it up.
As I bent I smelled wet asphalt--
a scent linked to a million wet grey memories in my mind--
bare feet and overalls, west coast rain and riding our bikes
round and round and round the driveway, pretending they were steeds;
Redwall and Rings and Malacandra.
Those stupid ducks too fat to swim,
the black kitten who died, run over by mistake,
the cat-caught lizards and birds whose lives we tried to save.
My little brothers, bows and arrows, hunting by the pond for frogs.

A million foolish memories,
and suddenly
the wonder of the world burst forth
in one wet flower and the smell of asphalt:
a God who calls the little children to Him
because they know what really matters,
and my foolish, obsessive, crazy, sad grown-up perfectionism
seemed silly, because it was.
Who cares about grades anyway.

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