Admission Mandatory

for S.A.

I spent so much time asking myself
why hardship felt more like shock
than anything else; wondering why
death barely cut my skin
—the way it did in movies—
cuts that healed fast anyway
so that I came to think youth
is invincibility
and feeling
is learned,
not born with;
because how different
are love and heartbreak, really,
from the rest of those sciences
that need learning?

Until I thought to myself
maybe life is a lesson:
“Tutorial on How to Feel: admission mandatory
Graduated to date: everyone
except us,
the present class.
Enrolled to date: everyone

You sit in class,
gradually soil your uniform
with sweat and dirt and hot blood,
you bite your pen (as the teachers bite at you)
and love after love
friendship after fight
after happy after sad
after good and after bad
you leave little crumbs of your
previous strength stuck on the
jackets and fallen in the laps
of every person you love,
everyone who hurts you
and who you hurt back.

Life is like that, a lesson:
you sit through the lesson
weakening like wetting paper
over the years threading out
into tired strands:
into old age;
bored in class
until it kills you.

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