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The Summer Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb

BU Parents,

     Fear not, the second installation of “Things That Will Blow Your Freshman’s Mind” is coming very soon, but I was reading Good Poems for Hard Times (FYI this is a great book to pick up, even if you’re not the world’s biggest poetry buff. Poems selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor, host and writer of A Prarie Home Companion), and I stumbled across a poem that reminded me of what some parents may be feeling about their college students this summer as they grow up. Enjoy.

The Summer Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb

Sharon Olds

Whatever he needs, he has or doesn’t
have by now.
Whatever the world is going to do to him
it has started to do. With a pencil and two
Hardy Boys and a peanut butter sandwich and
grapes he is on his way, there is nothing
more we can do for him. Whatever is
stored in his heart, he can use, now.
Whatever he has laid up in his mind
he can call on. What he does not have,
he can lack. The bus gets smaller and smaller, as one
folds a flag at the end of a ceremony,
onto itself, and onto itself, until
only a heavy wedge remains.
Whatever his exuberant soul
can do for him, it is doing right now.
Whatever his arrogance can do
it is doing to him. Everything
that’s been done to him, he will now do.
Everything that’s been placed in him
will come out, now, the contents of a trunk
unpacked and lined up on a bunk in the underpine light.

We could analyze this six ways from Sunday folks, but as you watch your students, your children, move out into the world with whatever it is they have or don’t have by now, I think you know what it means.

Jessica Hume, c/o 2005
Director of Writing and Parent Communications

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About Cassie

I'm the Director of the Writing Center and Director of Parent Communications at Bellarmine University.

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