The parking lot is jammed, the stadium crammed
with parents and their parents;
Up ahead hang freedom and July.
Speeches are made, then Principal Aaron
follows with a rule:
“Please hold your applause
until all 799 students have crossed.”
Abernathy strolls forward as
fans scorn Aaron’s command.
Familial whoops and clapping commence
for Adams, Andrews, Archer
then Bates, Beddingfield, Bourne (airhorn)
Cheers as Cunningham comes
across on crutches, then Davenport,
Davison, Dunmore, Ellinor...
Lang, Lawrence, Levine
The crowd is losing steam.
Three hundred yet to go.
Lulled into compliance, there's no
congratulating the miracle of Mycowski
matriculating in maternity,
but the paraplegic Patterson
rolls to polite acclaim.
Meanwhile in the back row
Wilson and Woo slide a smuggled Igloo
from beneath their blue satin gowns.
(Plenty of time for a couple cold ones.)
Petrie, Ruiz, Slavinsky –that clown
gets a laugh for flashing his brown
I’m With Stupid t-shirt at the flashing cameras.
Truman, Tyler, Underwood, Upshaw
all eyes are on the exits now.
Valentine, Vernon, Vogle, Vorhees
Ladies gather purses, gentlemen grope for car keys.
Williams? Pssst, you’re up! (Elbow.)
Wilson, Woo, and then a time out
for Aaron’s final crack at control:
“Graduates, let me remind you not to toss your
mortarboards, as someone could lose an eye.”
Wyman, Yeldell, Young, and
What’s left of the crowd explodes in
airhorns and admiration
as Zimmer staggers stageward,
hands raised in victory.
From folds of blue robe he
produces his last longneck,
handing it off in surprised exchange
for a rolled diploma.
799 cornered caps,
like flying fish suddenly airborne,
soar toward the sun
out of a blue satin sea.