what do you do

 

It’s graduation season here in northern Indiana.  The past two weekends have been taken up with high school graduation parties, awards ceremonies, after-parties, and of course the graduation ceremonies themselves.  This morning, I ran across one of the local valedictorians at the YMCA with his mother.  Yesterday, he had been on stage, addressing his class as they received their diplomas.  Today, he was just another sweaty t-shirt watching ESPN.  He looked tired, self-confident, and yet also… a bit lost.  How do you cope with a huge event?  How do you come to grips with a life passage?  The real work of the summer begins with commencement…

 

what do you do

after the helium balloons
have kissed back to the
ground the gaily painted
crocodile waddled
every back yard wiped
frosting from its teeth
and shed its share of tears
after all the platitudes
have burst in silver bubbles
and the orchestra packed up
after you have swept the
living room and ordered
meatball subs even though
you’re not hungry and
stared at the cards and cut
your toenails at the sink
after you have driven your
mother to the Y and found
yourself running twenty miles
on the treadmill twenty miles
without stopping because
that’s all you know and
there’s nobody to tell you
what to do when you get off

 

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About Andrew Kreider

I'm a poet and musician,transplanted from London, England to beautiful northern Indiana. By day I am a stay-at-home dad with our three kids while my amazingly talented spouse conquers medical school one long shift at a time. At night, I'm a performer and trouble-maker. I love my life.

7 responses »

  1. Andrew, finally getting caught up on comments, so I’m trolling your blog. This caught the very essence of grads in this time in history. My daughter Riley was valedictorian (came out of the closet to all the parents during her speech – the kids all knew – principal almost dropped her dentures) and I remember her pondering what was next. Turned out to be a rough sea until she righted her boat and took control of the tiller. I had to step out of the way and let her flounder for a bit, but she learned! This poem is SO TRUE. Thanks, Amy

    Reply
    • Thanks, Amy. I just discovered that WP has been putting your comments in my spam folder (think they’re still ticked at you for your battles over settings for comments!!!). So here we are, properly at last… RIley sounds like a strong, old soul – and you have held her with care and open hands. What a journey. Nice to be back in touch.

      Reply
  2. so good, not the feelings, you understand, but their eduction or is it education?

    Reply
  3. Andrew, that was pure brilliance–what a way to end–on a treadmill with “no one to tell you what to do when you get off” Love it

    Reply
  4. The ending is just perfect!

    Reply
  5. no one to tell you what to do when you get off…it can be a rather confusing time right after such events…you have been waiting for it and when it passes it is like the calm in the storm..

    Reply
  6. Ah, what to do indeed. Just hope mine make better decisions about what to do with that time than I did.

    Reply

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