In my fifth-grade yearbook, under what it said I wanted to be when I grew up, was eye doctor. I was fascinated with eyes at that time, and it got me to thinking how many plans we make for ourselves in our youth that never come to pass, simply because life gets in the way. It is funny now, when I think about what I wrote all those years ago, because the thought of touching my own eyeball (much less anyone else’s) freaks me out (which is why I could never do contacts. My dad (who graduated in ’69) shared with me a country song (can’t remember the artist or title now) about a graduating class, and all that happened to them. As one of his many little “projects”, he wrote a poem in the same format about his own graduating class. All of this inspired today’s poem.
It was May of 1969,
that eight girls of the class of Middleton High
all made plans to follow their dreams far from home.
Elsewhere was that wonderful, but elusive place,
though so many had tried before them,
only to return like battered wives and wayward husbands.
The girls believed they had outgrown Here,
that they could make it Anywhere,
as long as it wasn’t Near.
Faith Goodwin was like her name—
faith-filled, full of good, always won at Everything,
Most Likely to Succeed at Something,
though her only success was ending up in the maternity ward
seven times by the same man.
the girl with a book,
but never a boy under her arm.
She was the librarian’s muse
for years until he died,
him having written but one poem
of ten lines.
Marnie Owens, the cheerleader,
who married the football player—
the team that dictated the rules for faculty,
for they brought in all the money.
They were like little gods, in this way,
but not quite celestial dictators,
numbered as the stars.
Marnie cheers from a wheelchair now,
but no one cares,
for women still cheer for the men
who would leave them.
Judy Carnes, the chunky class clown,
who gave everyone a reason to laugh with her.
She fell in love with the boy who fell in love with Faith.
She watched their children,
this lady at The Chocolaterie,
who gave away big marshmallows in little cups.
Carol Hunt, the import from England,
who liked to say she ate spotted dick—
all with a runcible spoon.
Always with a British flag on her lapel,
she felt above all the hicks of Cheesegate,
(for Middleton was positively scandalous in is provinciality)
because she pronounced words a different way.
She fell in love with Jill Ellen,
who, from the day she came,
everything seemed to go awry.
Susan and Debbie Carter,
twins, it seemed, of a different mother,
who shared boys and nothing more.
Then there was Jill Ellen Roth,
who came to the town of Middleton
from the skyscraping landscape of Manhattan,
escaping the worms of the Big Apple,
seedy and rotten to its core,
only to die at the hands of four of these girls,
for reasons known only to them.