VIDEO POEM! “Transition to the Real World”

By Terese Mason Pierre

Transition to the Real World


Pushing through the banquet hall doors on graduation night:
Moonlight on my face
A diploma to my name,
I’m ready to embark on,
Make my mark on,
The real world.

The real world:
A mystical realm to which my teachers would refer
With a grand sweep of the arm, or a frustrated index finger
“You think high school is hard?”

As if high school was a purgatory we all died and went to
A birth canal we all tried to push through
Scurrying like ants, buzzing like bees
A school, of fish, swimming against the current of apathy
To finally
Reach university

University and College intersection, downtown
Sometimes we saw them: students
Eyes darker than the many nights they stayed awake
Caffeine to fight the stress that makes their hands shake
And their hair break
And on my break, I watch them
Pretentious and proud and pleased
Because I don’t see myself like them

Like them, you see
I was an A-student in high school.
Teachers loved me.
Got good grades
Accolades, say
Up to here
In my mind, there was no fear
That I wouldn’t survive, thrive,
From the very first day

The very first day, the very first class
I sit in front because that’s where I think I belong
I look behind me and see a sea of Macs
Literally everyone has a Mac
But I don’t need a fancy computer to tell me what I already know
The prof tells me what I already know
She says, “Look to your left, look to your right. One of you won’t be here by the end of the semester.”
I look to my left, look to my right,
Say, “Hey, I’m Terese. Wanna grab lunch later?”

Later, I get my assignment.
First reading: 54 pages.
That’s fine. I eat books for breakfast.
Second reading: 31 pages.
But wait! I’m still on the first reading!
Too bad! Gotta catch up! Didn’t you hear?
Nobody cares about how smart you think you are
You are a single number one in a binary code that stretches from here to the farthest edges of the future
All they want is for you to get it done

‘Get it done’ has become my mantra
Midterms mosey up around the corner and ambush me guerilla-style.
I pray to God to wash away the stain of stress that shows so starkly, so darkly, on my skin
And I go in.
Intro to Organic Chemistry term test one
My mark: 46.
For real.
I reel
With confusion
Along with my peers
Because, you see, like them
I was an A-student in high school
Teachers loved me
Got good grades
Accolades, say, up to here
In my mind, there was no fear
But now? It’s crept into that space and has taken the place of my ego
And that feeling storms, transforms, tramples my perfect garden
Was I Adam and Eve, in my perfect garden?
Was I a phoenix soaring to the stratosphere
Only to come burning, crashing down upon first consumption of that bittersweet fruit of knowledge?
Why didn’t they just punch me? It would’ve hurt a lot less

A lot less of what I think is true turns out to actually be so
Deflowered of all certainty,
Was this the transition to the real world?
Perhaps the real world was an acquired taste,
And I, a child, just harmed in my haste?
Like the liquid flame, of scotch or fame,
The bawling addiction that the broken nurse,
Could I let this feeling be my north star?
I knew that deep in my heart of hearts
I could let it go
That, no,
This 46, these dual digits on a computer screen, this piece of paper
I choose not to be defined by this
I know I’m more refined than this
I am beyond this number

This number of times I procrastinate
Make excuses
Search for rationales that don’t exist
Revel in the amount of time I have and then let it waste away
Let my potential waste away
It’s over,
And I’ll let God hold me to that promise.
My final assignment: an essay
A comfortable chair I can sink back into
My mark: an A
And it washes over me

The rain washes over me
As I push through the exam centre doors on the last day of first year
Ready to set out
With high hopes about
The real world.

TereseMasonTerese Mason Pierre has attended eleven schools in three countries and spent almost two decades around deep thinkers, great teachers and cats. She plans to become a physician in the long-term, and studies Bioethics and English at the University of Toronto.

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  1. […] an article/blog post about it. And then they published it on their website, in conjunction with a video of that spoken word piece, and now I’ve got words about words getting out into the worlds. […]

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