Graduate School: An Outsider’s Perspective

my friend is Clytemnestra, my friend is an eagle

my friend is eating salmon, onion, pumpernickel

and telling me she has no hope


my friend has taught in China, my friend has worked in Burma

my friend has backpacked Europe, toured India

but can’t imagine a future


my friend is a rare intelligence, my friend was chosen for this program

my friend was one of six in the whole wide planetside

my friend can’t breathe


my friend is a gilded serpent, the sea-salt fruit of the world tree

a long red tongue lapping honey and pomegranate seeds

in the underground


my friend is tired beyond desire, my friend needs a couch to sleep on

costume jewelry for her Cleopatra, a cup of coffee, a symbol

she takes a nap in a panda mask


hush, household

hush, woes

hush, weariness

my friend is sleeping


now the kettle is quiet as a candle flame

now that old overcast sky gleams with a glancing slyness

and outside the window while you rest, a sex-crazed

sparrow cries piteously for love, for love!

he calls and calls, and then falls silent, and the Earth is rounded

like a mother’s breast, can you see it?

everything is horizon




Filed under Uncategorized

6 responses to “Graduate School: An Outsider’s Perspective

  1. Dr. Mary Crowell

    Oh graduate school! I do not miss you. Not in the least. It was amazing to me at the time how much better I felt when we moved away from where I was going to school. I had to do my last few courses mostly by email, but I also set up my own piano studio–and discovered I was really really competent. Graduate school exhausted me and made me feel always a little short of excellence. (Sometimes a lot short.)

    • csecooney

      How long ago was it for you? Is the wound still fresh? Do you have any wisdom for someone who is, perhaps like you once were, half-drowned in those stressful seas?

  2. J.

    Holy damn. Yup.

    I wasn’t the one you asked for wisdom, but I found myself giving some to a student last week, and I’ll pass it on: I said something to the effect of this: just take what comes as it comes, and try to breathe. You don’t have to beat it or succeed over it, you just have to be still standing, or even sitting, and still breathing, when it moves past.

    They try to trick us, to make us think the goal is to win; they are lying, the goal is to survive, to complete. The belief that we have to win is what drains us; the goal must be to just be there and do what needs to be done. Hope and future come later; now there is just doing. And breathing.

    Bless you for helping let her sleep. ravelled sleeves and all, you know?

    • csecooney

      My friend just saw the poem this morning, and I hope she reads this too! Thank you for all you do for your students!

  3. SideGirlGems

    This post and comments herein are warm and beautiful. Thanks to all of you for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s