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for my school friends
I think of the luxury cars we drove as teenagers –
Audis, Mercedes, Lexus, Bimmers.
Brooks Brothers leather and cashmere sweaters.
Padlock Tiffany fobs. Kate Spade totes.
The knowing yearbook notes: il miglior fabbro,
see you in Belize! We got our tans at sophisticated lakes –
you could tell they were premium. The water
was pretty much Evian. No more than we deserved:
silver service Cokes and lobster rolls, black diamond
weekends in Aspen. French lessons? Bien sûr, chérie, you bet.
Après ski, sophomore trips to Paris and the Met.
A Harvard woman in Wayfarers and a trench
came to recruit our brains, which were the size of the state
she said, fast and sleek as Corvettes. They opened doors,
were plush as debutante balls, cost a bomb.
But we nailed our vitae: honour roll, choir, varsity tennis.
Gridiron? God, no; soccer. (Our sports were European.)
Philosophy class: Kant, Camus, absurdism.
Our teacher we called by his given name (Jim).
Jim showed us Ubu Roi, the sad wrong jaguars of Rousseau.
We aced trig and calculus, everything you could know
from Lincoln to Clinton. Blue dress, log cabin.
No cheer team. We were leaders. We fed the homeless
foiled burritos like silver bullets and started not-for-profits,
partied in our parents’ boardrooms and drank Everclear
from ironic red dixie cups. We showered every penny
of our college years on worthy NGOs. Our empires
could come later, after the consulting years; we had time
at our disposal, and after all, we could afford it:
we had generously upholstered souls, and everybody knows
America was beautiful at the end of the century
and charity begins with our kind of beautiful money.
Sarah Holland-Batt is a poet. Her most recent book is The Hazards.