“All That Matters”
By Michelle Borbon
I was an optimistic freshman.
I was optimistic.
So I walked through the maze of halls, with an oversized backpack full of dreams
and blank notebooks.
Curiosity ran through the neurons in my empty head and ambition swam in my veins.
And as the months kept passing I kept walking with my glossy black pens and all the hard work in the world.
Then things sped up
slowly got replaced
What mattered was an A.
Something funny started happening every night.
Who knew the hands of a clock could get tired of spinning?
And by December that year,
I had lost my sleep deep in my locker.
My integrity got misplaced somewhere the September of second year.
Instead I found
answers in class notes
and muffled whispers
brown paper bags
All that ever mattered
was that A.
I found my first gray hair that October on a Tuesday, it was 1AM and I stayed up
studying all that night.
But you know its funny my stupid clock with the tired arms
February, the next year.
I was a junior.
My head was overflowing, the neurons
forgot the names of my favorite songs
and ambition clogged my arteries
my veins, full of apathy
I don’t know my best friend anymore but that’s
I still have those A’s
That’s all that matters to (A)nyone (A)nymore (A)nyways
sitting in the calc classroom
and I had my first heart attack
I couldn’t sleep but
my hand clutched caffeine like a child caressing candy
and that clock kept ticking and ticking
and the room was turning white and
why does it even matter to me?
All that mattered was
and those goddamn straight A’s
and I’m drowning in the mistakes I made
42 over pi
How do you breathe when air runs away?
How do you sleep on pillows stuffed with letters?
that’s why I’m here
The 8th AP class in my third year
I forgot my name
but Isabella and Ferdinand married in 1469
and King Louis had 21 pairs of high heels.
My clock lost a spring last night
I’m blue and I’m purple and I can’t see straight
but he can
and she can
see all those straight A’s
the reason I started crying on Thursday
how to make tears stop.
so I’m filling the bathtub with them
how to breathe so I might as well go swimming
in my straight A’s, and their straight C’s
because they meant the world to me
they meant approval they meant my future my pride my everything and all those senseless freshman fantasies
And senior year I walked
through gray halls with a backpack
full of empty dreams and ink-packed notebooks
plastic diploma in hand.