July 2, 2020

I learned to bury myself

in exams and exhaustion,

in pink highlighters and black thoughts,

in study guides and late nights,

in straight As and tangled headphones.
I learned everything I was supposed to be,
and everything I wasn’t;
I learned that I could live my best life
and still see pieces of my worst.

I learned that I could run ahead
and still be dragging my feet to keep up.
But everything should be okay
as long as I serve shiny grades on trays

made one hundred percent of gold,
and never let my smile fall beneath a ninety.
Don’t forget,

you’re graded on that too.

It’s not that hard—

but when they hand you a shovel,

make sure you learn where to stand,

or you may look up one day

and find that tests and tiredness buried you too.

Sleep is for extra credit,
but what if I wake up one day
with a degree in one hand

and a career in the other,
and I slowly realize
that somewhere along the way
I forgot to hold on to my heart?


  1. Zachary Holbrook

    This is good. I was especially struck by this imagery:

    as long as I serve shiny grades on trays
    made one hundred percent of gold,
    and never let my smile fall beneath a ninety.

    Like– like the grade is just a product, the end result that is all that is considered meaningful, and the process behind it can just be forgotten.

    • Cindy Green

      I love, love, love reading the unique insight that everyone has when they read poetry. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Corissa

    I adore this, and it is so, so true. The imagery is woven in masterfully, and its words have such a tender but firm way of plucking heartstrings and reminding them what it feels like to vibrate, to make music. Thank you for this. <3

    • Cindy Green

      Thank you so much, Corissa!

  3. Shannon

    This is really beautiful, Cindy and very true. I always love seeing your poetry on here! Your choice of words and timing do a great job contributing a sense of urgency that kept me captivated!

    • Cindy Green

      This means so much, Shannon! Thank you for commenting 🙂

  4. Emily

    Mind if I print this out and stick it to my locker next year? I need this reminder.

    • Cindy Green

      Go right ahead! I’d be honoured. You’ve got this.

  5. Abigail

    This is amazing! It takes all those simple details of a striving student, weaving an image of the effort, the exhaustion, the striving to do and be good, and pointing out that if we lose perspective of what matters and why, we may lose a part of our self in that race. It effectively expresses how University feels at times, and while I enjoy it, I don’t intend to lose my heart. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Cindy Green

      You summed up post-secondary stress very well. It’s something I’m trying to remember, too 🙂 Glad you appreciated it!

    • Cindy Green

      Thank you!

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