I Came To College As An Echo

I came to college as an echo---
an echo of my parents' vocational ambitions for me;
an echo of my high schools' academic achievement.


I was an echo of my freshman roommate's boisterous chatter,
until he let me know in very specific terms that my
company was no longer required at meals,
or on his side of the cluttered room.


I was an echo of each day's triple migration
to and from classes; and freshman, first term, classes
caused us to echo the most because
they set the tempo and tambre of the
next, interminable, three and a half years.


I was an echo of all the great and long decased poets
who gathered in the cellars of the ancient library
(the cellars because the sciences occupied the highest floors),
where I often sat, alone, trying to abosrb some of
the lyric exultation they have provided us.


Oh yes, as for appearance:
I was an echo of every word they could find to apply to me:
dweeb, geek, nerd; four-eyes; poodle-head,
and quite a few more I will not repeat here.
And I was an echo of last year's style---
bright polo shirt and faded, bell-bottom jeans;
and, anyhtime weather permitted, flipflops.


One Friday afternoon, I was an unheard of echo:
dressed as you have just read above,
I walked nine and a half miles, to . . .
and the same amount . . . from
entirely barefoot (my flipflops not up to the effort)
to retrieve one of my (then) girl friend's erotic letters
sent once a week from our home town
(she was a senior, and would be coming to college next year),
but even her most explicit statements were merely echoes
of what she thought I would like to have heard.


Come the week before Thanksgiving,
I was the last to leave our room,
because I wanted to hear the dying echoes
struggling to emerge from the shallows of the corridors.
Six weeks of Christmas break seemed like a long, long time to me.
But when I returned home,
and plugged my C.B. into the dashboard of my car,
made whole once again the first time I said "Breaker, breaker,"
I was no longer an echo,

but had retrieved my handle.

and became once again (after a long awaiting)
that night, a signal that sounded on a hundred radios
beneath the clear night sky and a thousand stars on display.



View starward's Full Portfolio