Graduation Fragments

(On Monday, May 15th, I graduated from Mount Allison University. I brought a pen with me to the convocation ceremony and wrote whatever came to mind on the program. These fragments are largely unpolished, incomplete, and not in any particular order.)

***

Graduation,
precipitous cylinder,
contents bittersweet,
float to top
or sink to bottom;
such is the rolled diploma
borne at our sides.

***

Our parade is less garish
than those of my childhood,
more sombre,
and the order inspires
greater degrees
of perceived superiority.

***

This ceremony is a matter of dust:
artifacts gathering,
graduates aspirating,
and the desire to leave
this institution in the.

***

This sweat is that of a stagnant gymnasium,
not nervousness. The practiced nose
can tell the difference.
The former is more caustic
and stings the eyes.
The latter clings to the skin
like the embrace of a dying relative.

***

I cannot quite enunciate
why I attach so much importance
to where my name is written,
even in plain black type,
and where it has not been found.

One would assume that,
with so much practice,
I would be better
at leaving such things behind.

***

It’s raining today. Of course, I know better now than to look for meaning in this; eighteen-year-old me might have been so indelicate, but I now respect the right of rain to be meaningless.

***

What does it say
about my ego, my stature,
or this school’s approach to its students,
that my cap feels far too small,
my hood is sliding down my shoulders,
and both seem determined
to free themselves
from my presence?

***

Graduation:
gradual, slow, steady;
grade, achievements,
slopes, attainment;
graduated, measured,
step-by-step
across the stage.

***

This robe, faux silk,
the alumni pin,
Mansbridge’s hand,
firm at first feeling,
the clack of dress shoes.

***

A quote without context: “I’m more or less ready for this to be over.”

***

This is a start.
This is an end.
This is a transition.
This is the first day of the rest of my life.
This isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
This is a bit of a letdown.
This is exciting.
This is scary.
This is boring.
This is an achievement.
This is not enough.
This is not enough.
This is not enough.

***

I am bitter.
I am a letdown.
I am overrated.
I am a fraud.
I am nothing special.
I am an underdog.
I am still fighting.
I am motivated.
I am a series of chips and shoulders.
I am going to be so much more.
I am ready.
I am going to prove myself wrong.

***

I guess I thought the diploma would be heavier or something. No idea why. It’s just paper.

Maybe I’ll feel better when it’s framed.

***

So many names and faces that I never took the time to know. Swatches packed with favourite colours, stables full of first pets, enough stories to fill our library floor to ceiling, most lost to me know, beyond the reach of convenience. I’m sure many of these were wonderful people, and many of them still are, but their quality must be taken on faith. We could pass each other on the street years from now and never know it. Even next week, when the holdover Mount A glow has faded, it will be too late to be classmates. We would have to make do with casual acquaintances if we chose to make do at all.

***

As I sit here, all I can think of is how hard I will fight to make sure and certain that these were not the best years of my life.

***

Graduation: a process of moving on, looking back, stepping forward, turning a corner, standing up, or not moving at all but simply changing-in-place.

Author: Mitchell

I'm 22 and currently pursuing my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

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