First Night by Patricia J. Boyle Tail end of August. Mild air, a quarter moon smiled benignly. Stars glittered, mirroring our nervous excitement. In the distance, beyond the town, stretched the beckoning finger of the deep glacial lake. We sat on a grassy slope that joined the dorm complex below with the arts quad above. Suspended in time, a handful of us, newly met, talked the way strangers do. Superficial conversation. Where are you from? What’s your major? The words didn’t really matter. We sat on the edge of the future. Our futures. In afternoon farewells to families, we released our pasts, or at least loosened our grip. Soon, reality would come for us. But this night, for a few hours, the magic of the unknown held sway. We sat together past midnight, sipping cartons of chocolate milk. Palavering, laughing, drunk on the elixir of limitless possibility floating on the breeze.
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I’m Patricia J. Boyle, a writer from Livermore, California. I write mostly poetry and fiction, and this year Russian Hill Press published my young adult fantasy novel called Traitor in the Realm.
The poem I’m going to read is about the beginning of my undergraduate experience at Cornell. Five hundred students attended my high school, but there were over ten thousand undergraduates at the university. Freshman year was an exciting time yet a little scary.