Friday, August 24, 2007

Drinking the koolade

Drove up to Lycoming this afternoon to run some last-minute errands (parking sticker, voicemaul setup, class rosters) before donning regalia to take part in my first-ever convocation. I don't know why I never did this at Bucknell. I didn't go to my own graduation at Houston (but the Vermont ceremony was great). Anyway, a nice 45 minutes outside on a slightly breezy but otherwise muggy August afternoon. The faculty, staff and administration walked double-file over to the quad, then stepped to the side to line a pathway, through which the first-year students passed while we applauded. It seemed all so delightfully pagan. In the tent after the ceremony, I bypassed the trays of appetizing morsels and dove straight for the iced barrel of bottled water.

On the way home, I saw the Goodyear blimp make a steep nosedive across the freeway and disappear behind some trees. I think it's here for the Little League World Series, though I heard on the radio that there were no games scheduled for today.

Classes start on Monday. I'm about as ready as I'll ever be.
* * *
Here's a poem from John Engman's Temporary Help:

The Window in the Cow

You are a child with much to learn,
my professor said, when I compared
windows in cows to Nazi experiments.
The worst-case scenario for cows is veal,
he said, brief lives in small, dark stalls.
And didn’t I eat steak? Someday I would be
dead, he said, of what might be diseases
cured by such cows. So I changed my thesis

and learned a first lesson in rhetoric:
try to think before you feel what you see.
From my dormitory room, I could see the cow
grazing pampered grasses, strolling her acre
of the University behind a chainlink fence,
scolding those who came to see her bowels,
and the four stomachs, with a woeful moo.
Like an Old Faithful or Mount Rushmore,

backdrops for photographs of children,
she was exotica for the family album.
And if she came close, mothers and fathers
could study her puzzling intestines through
glass held by rivets to her torso, encourage
the children, with oohs and ahhs, to step up
and rub her soft ears, the children amazed
that such a cow was willing to be touched.

1 comment:

Karin said...

Your convocation sounds so nice. I'm always having anxiety dreams about those kinds of ceremonies: forgot my mortarboard, can't find my place in line, am being strangled by my regalia, general confusion. In reality, I've never had a problem, and it seems like I've done it a lot--so I'm not sure what the anxiety is all about!

Best wishes for a wonderful school year!