Before a graduation.

A collage by Abigail Murphy

Abigail Murphy; Arlington, Virginia—

There’s an aching in my neck from leaning,

Head slouched over shoulders, typing, reading, 

Watching, rarely speaking. And myself—I

Ache. Aching for a connection, feeling. 

Rush of joy, excitement, sadness, feeling. 

That feeling of uniting with someone

Across space. Seeing their body, feeling

Their presence. Two movements drifting closer

Together. The creek in these woods was in

Me, flowing. Filling me, smoothing me out, 

While pulling me closer to faraway 

Rocks. Jagged. Eroded. No. That’s too much

To ask, to dream, to walk on. Feeling this

Watershed moment. Afraid of goodbye.


Watershed moment afraid of goodbye. 

I move with pen and paper to my creek 

To soar back in time without wings or sky. 

My legs are too long. My attempts seem meek. 

Shining greens flow closer with a short breeze,

Taunting me with each move, dodging the fear

Of our loneliness. Sun rays hit leaves. Leave—

To go where? To return? No closure. No tear.

A home without a sanctuary. Huh?

Home? Where? Cars make it across the bridge. Leave. 

No. They remind us those who leave are the

Ones we dread seeing. Search until I believe,

Believe green. We stay in our boxes, thinned.

Here, my silent moment fades into wind. 


There, my silent moment faded to wind. 

Another age, I pounded my legs up

And down. We kept moving. Rotate. I grinned.

Pounded, moved, rotated beside friends I 

Understood, enemies I knew so well.

Me, now? Me, running? Agony. Mundane. 

No thinking, constant moves. The mundane,

That mundanity of fighting forward.

Drifting with a purpose, takeoff, land. Touch

Nothing, but, then, me—then—I flew above

You. But I never touched the air. I touched

You though. Yes, we could touch when we wanted. 

This battle between sweat and Earth—I used

To collapse in familiar arms. Friends’ arms.


To collapse in my familiar friends’ arms,

Oh, fuck, I would cry. Can I touch again? 

Afraid of too many connections. Harm’s

Following me. Silence hurts. To feel zen–

Zen? I can’t close my mind when there is no

Pandemic—oh, fuck, I would sob. Sobbing

Has only come once. Day before the blow,

Day before my last class. I walked, throbbing.

Throbbing? Throbbing… Looked through the windows of

My elementary school. Each window. 

Empty desks labeled with names. Signs of love

Suspended in sterile air. Looking in though

I haven’t felt that air in years. Moved in

Lines, lines now lost until we can begin. 


Lines, lines now lost until we can begin 

Are spread, divided. Each patron six feet

From another. But how far is six feet?

Far enough to taste how loneliness 

bites. Far enough to propel me 

deeper down, shoving my head 

And tugging at my legs. 

The stretching reshapes

Me. I learn to

Shed water



There’s an aching in my neck from leaning.

One thought on “Before a graduation.

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