2009: Okla Elliott, “The Trials to Come”

After four years (maybe five) of reading
authors both dead and alive, of bleeding

your youthful blood, straining your eyes, you’re done
at last, but done is a disguise for one

more task you must begin. Time flies, they say,
and I guess the cliché applies doubly today

as we wish you well in the trials to come —
and they will — in size measured by the ton.

But I hope — no, I know — the styles of thought
and rhetoric, the miles of words we’ve taught

you will serve as wise guide through and anodyne
to injuries to come. But realize I’m

not suggesting life is comprised of knocks
alone. We’ve seen the fall and rise of stocks

a dozen times in recent months, and that’s
what, largely, you might surmise one gets …

ups and downs and ups, cries and smiles, repeat.
But don’t treat topsy-turvy rides as defeat.

Now you’re prepared for each surprise you will meet.

Commissioned by the Eta Chapter of Ohio, Phi Beta Kappa, 2009

About Okla Elliott

Okla Elliott is a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Ohio Wesleyan University. His non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and translations appear in A Public Space, Indiana Review, International Poetry Review, The Literary Review, The Los Angeles Review, New Letters, North Dakota Quarterly, and the Sewanee Theological Review, among others. He is the author of The Mutable Wheel and Lucid Bodies and Other Poems and is co-editor, with Kyle Minor, of The Other Chekhov.