Maril Crabtree, High School Reunion
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
Here we are, the remnant of curious voyagers
sailing into a room of near-familiar strangers
instead of staying home where daily life
is comfortably defined. We launch ourselves
into blind encounters with our unfinished
half-remembered lives. Former boyfriends
who groped my breasts, sucked my tongue in
the starlit seats of Thunderbirds or Impalas,
now fill lists of dead or missing. My girlfriends,
whose dreams and dresses for all-important dances
I so casually shared, have vanished, too.
I’m left with that well-known feeling of odd one,
different one, the one who left, traded Spanish moss
and magnolias for sunflowers and cottonwoods.
I sail through the tablecloth seas a dozen times,
seeking someone to swim these sorry waters with me
but they ask instead How many children do you have?
and Aren’t grandchildren great? They fill the air with
You look the same, I’d recognize you anywhere –
as I squint into yearbook photos pinned to alien
chests, search my brain for memories to fix them to.
The evening floats on. I navigate the dance floor
with bloated husbands and drink more wine. It’s easy
as long as I have no expectations, no regrets,
as long as I pretend we are castaways
on a reef-ridden island, trolling empty beaches,
looking for that last box of washed-up treasure.
Author’s Comment: My goal with this poem was to portray the gamut of emotions within the universal experience of attending a high school reunion (decades after graduation) while honoring my unique journey of having left the South for the Midwest at the tender but somehow wise age of 17, a memory-voyage I continue to explore in all its complexity.
Bio: Maril Crabtree grew up in the South but now live in the Midwest. She has two chapbooks, Dancing with Elvis and Moving On. Her poems have been published in numerous journals, most recently in Third Wednesday, I-70 Review and Imagination & Place.