Graduation Day

Drawn by ceremonial obligation
up from sleep I woke and stepped 
into the borrowed black robes
all ghost bureaucrats trained 
to redirect dreaming pretend 
we do not like to wear. I drove 
my black car to the stadium 
to sit on stage and be watched 
watching young expectant spirits 
one by one with dread certainty 
pass before me, clouded 
in their names. Then listened 
to no one in their speeches say 
you’re welcome for allowing 
us not to tell you it’s already 
too late to learn anything 
or defend whatever accidental 
instrument in us causes 
all these useless thoughts. 
Like if you walked for hours 
through the vast black avenues 
of those server farms all of us 
with our endless attention built,
you could almost feel the same 
peaceful disinterest as when 
your parents talking and smoking 
raised their heads for a moment 
to smile and tell you go back 
upstairs and read the book 
you love about myths that explain 
weather and death. Now it is 
almost June and they are finally 
the children they always were. 
So more precise than anyone 
has ever had to be, go forget
everything we told you
so you can fix what we kept
destroying by calling the future.
 

Matthew Zapruder, "Graduation Day." Copyright © 2017 Matthew Zapruder. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.
Source: PoetryNow (2017)
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