They told us that those four years
Were the best of our lives
Too busy preparing for our future, we didn’t listen
Through hard classes and long tests,
We’d spend our afternoons on the stairs Studying and laughing together under the bronze sun
We’d meet on the stairs again the next day Consoling each other over a quick salad
After long days at home and stressful weeks at work
Cold mornings and rainy afternoons,
We’d get a coffee and share a donut on the stairs And wait for sunnier days together
We knew the four years would pass quickly, But they really did pass quickly
And there we were: moving our tassels
Little did we know that the stairs
Of the graduation podium were
The last stairs we’d share
Life waved at me from the top of a building But the stairs reminded me of you
So my feet desperately stayed rooted to the ground.
But now we lead different lives
And silently cheer each other on
From behind TV screens
Time passes and we grow
And the road trips we planned when we were young Don’t happen because you’re not here with me
So I climb the stairs at the end of a long day To my lone apartment
On the 22nd floor
I sit down for a minute
And take a breath on the landing and smile And hope you remember me, too
What is it to be a classmate?
It means to be part of a community
A community of diversity
Students of different backgrounds and descent
Coming together as one
It is comradery and compassion
The smiles from ear to ear when you gather together Classmates are company
Company you can study with books in lap What is it to be a classmate?
It is learning together
Growing side by side
Being a classmate is being a friend
A friend you wish to capture every moment with
As I put on my headphones
Attempting to learn
I realize this is why my parents fought
As our nation almost burned.
For me to receive an education
And be able to take advantage of luxuries
who would’ve thought I’d be learning from a wooden box My mother says we can’t afford one
We barely have enough pots.
But my family struggles are why I’m here
Stressing over education
Just to receive a letter.
Anything below a B won’t do for me.
I’m hoping my dedication and this television Will bring what’s next to me.
What if this is how they learn 50 years from now? Wouldn’t that be a sight.
I hope those students don’t take it for granted Because this is alright.
It was cold and dark. Save for the bright camera flashes, Queen Yvonne could not see past her outstretched palm. She looked up at Donald, who was at least a foot taller than her, his silver crown shining in the light. Goosebumps traveled all over her bare arms. Her hands were filled with small septum and the decorated bouquet of flowers, but she ached to put them down. The leaves pricked her through her white gloves and the septum threatened numerous times to slip out of her hands. Yvonne even started to feel the weight of her dress. The only thing that rested calmly was her crown.
“Ok, big smiles both of you!” The photographer’s voice boomed to get their attention.
“I want to go back inside," Donald muttered. So did Yvonne. She could hear the soft vibrations of music coming from the building. They had spent all day at the festival- greeting, laughing, and hosting. This year, they even hosted a little parade which was really just the King and Queen being paraded around on a small float. Of course, the festival had to be on what felt like the hottest day of May. Yvonne almost stayed inside for the entire time just to get some cool air, not to mention the bees and insects coming out of their hibernation and wreaking havoc. Yvonne ended up keeping her cloth fan and bug spray on her during the entire festival. As spacious as the festival was, the air still reeked of sweat, smoke, and food. Though as the day darkened, the temperature dropped, and everyone went home to prepare for the celebration later that night. The vendors dwindled out, the cooks dumped and cooked more food, and a new set of decorations went up. Yvonne’s stomach grumbled and she thought about all the food sitting on the table inside. She heard Donald snicker.
“Are you hungry too?” he asked.
“Yes,” she answered, “I have not eaten since earlier today at the festival.”
“Just one more!” the photographer promised. Finally, after what Yvonne counted as five more flashes did the photographer free them. Donald helped Yvonne up the steps and, when they opened the door, were greeted by the bouncing music and the thunderous sound of people. They headed straight for the food table, filling their plates with chicken, rice and vegetables. As King and Queen of the May Day, they were granted their own table where they sat and watched everyone enjoy themselves. After they finished their food, Yvonne and Donald joined everyone else on the dance floor for the rest of the night.
Weeks later, when the picture came out, Yvonne sat down in her living room to look at it. She smiled at the smirk on Donald’s face and at her heavy dress. She looked at the tall plant perched on the dirty steps behind them. Yvonne had also never realized how taller Donald was than her until she saw their shadows on the brick wall, right under the big, block, letters of “Mecklenburg College”. Donald’s shadow was a litter bit taller than him, and his crown oddly reminded her loosely of the Tahj Mahal while her shadow blended into his. It was a day she would never forget.
“Biology is the beginning and the living end.”
That was what the sign on the door read
While I waited for class to begin.
And it made me think about life and death,
And every sticky sweet thing in between,
Like jelly donuts, the stuff of life all bleeding out
Until we cannot breathe.
And that one part - “living end.”
I suppose there’s something to be said
For the waste that inevitably comes for us all
After death. Our skin caves in,
And the organisms in the business of decomposition
Have a field day in what was once us.
I think of crows nosing around a ruby red meal
Of once-upon-a-time-ago opossum or squirrel.
I think of maggots crawling out of wounds festering and dead. Even after our untimely ends,
We become playgrounds for the living.
But I suppose that’s what they mean
By biology, and life and death.