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Commencement Speech Delivered to an Audience of One

Matthew Olzmann

Every time my friend gets dumped,
he pens a letter to his newest ex.
The letters feel like weird commencement
, he says. Each one starts
with an anecdote then blooms
into a vague blessing.
So one opens
with a tale of a stranger knocking
on a strange door. It ends
with an uncharted sea, the bow
of the lover’s boat kissing the tops
of waves, wind messing the hair,
virgin coastlines straight ahead.
Or another letter kicks off with a story
of two golden retrievers, digging separate holes
in a common yard. Then closes
with a prayer, clouds that part,
a funnel of light. Hey, it’s been fun!
You were “here.” Successfully,
you finished being “here.”Good luck.

So that was my version of the anecdote.
Here’s my attempt at the blessing—

I haven’t slept in days.
I can’t find single amusing narrative
to narrow all this history into a metaphor
for this moment. You are heading off toward—
somewhere. I hope you get there.

Matthew Olzmann

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