I am reading a poem
when the words
green and bought
just for college
remind me of the
green plaid two-piece cotton –
straight skirt and blouse
that buttoned up
the front –
I wore then,
one of just a few new
the other a pink
but it is the green
that carries
the full weight,
the sadness
I didn’t know
or bother to feel
at how little there
how unlikely it was
I would make it
until the end
of the year.
The landlady who lied,
saying I had boys
in my room,
when he had come
only to help me
Trapped in the
infirmiary bathroom,
back in the back
where they stuck me
because I had mumps,
so no one could hear.
Everything went wrong
that year.
Because I was away
from my family they
not knowing I had
been for years.
The roommate I had
in the place I wasn’t
really allowed to live
had a set of frosted
glasses with matching
that sat on the top
of the frig.
In pastel shades
I never forgot.

No one knew
what the Indian philosophy
professor had said,
we all got C’s –
or worse.
I stapled statistics exams
for a living
and spent half of
what I earned
to get home in a cab
because the buses
stopped running
at night.
The day I finally
dropped out
I realized passing
through the bell
tower that I
hadn’t thought
what I might
do next,
it was a re-active
pattern that would
follow me for thirty
along with the feeling
that I could never
hang on long enough,
that help,
like the housing
director’s offer of
a room in his
always came
too late.


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