college tour

she points to a brick building
& says "that's where they keep monkeys 
for research." the campus is very green
& too pamphlet to be touched.
the tour guide has perfect skin
& walks backwards. i imagine the distance
from here to home & from home
to my boyfriend's mouth. when you're
eighteen every moment is a string
of gaps you want to close or widen.
holding a folder close to my chest.
i wear a flower crown. a blue dress. 
girl girl
girl. the tour guide speaks
in numbers & ratios: roomates 
& meals & stairs & credits &
teacher:student & student:window.
i think of the monkeys as we walk 
the small lush campus. monekys 
in their own little dorms. 
i want to ask  
"what kind of monkeys?" 
"how did they get here?"
"are they happy?" "why do you need
monkeys for research?" living
subjects. their wrinkled knuckles.
we trade SAT scores & she tells me
to take a prep class i know
we can't afford but i nod
& say "yes." my flip flop
keeps breaking but i just slide 
it forward on the sidewalk.
early decision. yes. early 
decision. the monkeys
maybe sleeping this early
along with the students all 
honeycombed away. my dry elbows.
her glowing face. 
in the admissions office 
i pluck more pamphlets 
from the wall because i'm not sure 
what else to do with my hands 
while i wait. 
none of the pamphlets mention 
the monkeys. before my short interview
i listen to a mom coaching
her son for his. she says,
"make sure to talk about
the africa mission trip. make sure
to talk about AP classes."
in my own all i can think about
are the monkeys. what do 
their cages look like?
who is tending them right now?
we talk about the great gatsby.
i try desperately to sound smart
& to look like someone else--
someone not from a gravel road 
with a wonky mailbox. i smile
to hide my crooked tombstone teeth. 
after, i wait in the parking lot
for mom to pick me up.
it is september & autumn 
still seems impossible. my bare
shoulders. the backs of
my knees. campus trees hushing
in the wind. needing to leave
as soon as i could-- the campus
unbearably real as college students
walked to the dining hall 
& sat on the green lawn
& monkeys thrummed somewhere
in a building's belly like secrets. 

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