“On Attending a High School Graduation” by Joe Mills

Joe Mills


Looking at them
clustered together
in their black robes,
waiting for their names
to be called,
waiting to become
more distinct
versions of themselves,
I whisper véraison
and if it makes you
uncomfortable to consider
these boys and girls
in terms of ripeness,
the fullness of fruit
waiting to be picked,
that’s understandable,
because after all,
if we’re honest,
there’s always something
slightly unnerving
about walking a vineyard
and casting a calculating eye
at all those vines
waiting to be thinned
all those grapes
waiting to be harvested,
all that fruit
waiting to be crushed
transformed and packaged
for our future pleasures.

from Rattle 29, Summer 2008


Joe Mills: “In college, I signed up for a poetry workshop because it was in the afternoon. For the first assignments, I wrote lines like, ‘Spring flowers raise their sleepy heads / to smell the dewy freshness.’ One day the professor commented that he didn’t know why he was bothering since none of us would write past the age of 25. In my twenties, I was writing to prove him wrong. In my 40s, I’m writing to give my thoughts and life shape.”

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