Tuesday, April 13, 2021

After Graduate School

After Graduate School

By Valencia Robin


Needless to say I support the forsythia’s war

against the dull colored houses, the beagle 

deciphering the infinitely complicated universe

at the bottom of a fence post. I should be gussying up

my resume, I should be dusting off my protestant work ethic,

not walking around the neighborhood loving the peonies

and the lilac bushes, not heading up Shamrock

and spotting Lucia coming down the train tracks. Lucia

who just sold her first story and whose rent is going up,

too, Lucia who says she’s moving to South America to save money,

Lucia, cute twenty-something I wish wasn’t walking down train tracks

alone. I tell her about my niece teaching in China, about the waiter

who built a tiny house in Hawaii, how he saved up, how

he had to call the house a garage to get a building permit. 

Someone’s practicing the trumpet, someone’s frying bacon

and once again the wisteria across the street is trying to take over

the nation. Which could use a nice invasion, old growth trees

and sea turtles, every kind of bird marching 

on Washington. If I had something in my refrigerator,

if my house didn’t look like the woman who lives there

forgot to water the plants, I’d invite Lucia home, 

enjoy another hour of not thinking about not having a job, 

about not having a mother to move back in with.

I could pick Lucia’s brain about our circadian rhythms,

about this space between sunrise and sunset, 

ask if she’s ever managed to get inside it, the air, 

the sky ethereal as all get out—so close

and no ladder in sight.



About This Poem

“I wrote this poem while realizing how quickly my time in graduate school had sped by, and with it, much of the bravado I’d felt back when I was first quitting my job and leaving behind everything to be a poet. As scary as things got—and things got pretty scary—taking that leap saved my life.”—Valencia Robin


About the Poet

Valencia Robin is the recipient of a 2021 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. Her first collection of poems, Ridiculous Light (Persea Books, 2019), won Persea Books’ Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. She is a co-director of the University of Virginia Young Writers Workshop.

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