In the Hood

Well this is easy, I think,
reading the simple instructions
on the small piece of paper inside the plastic bag.
But it’s not as straightforward as it seems,
twisting it around in front of the mirror.
I have to ask my mom to help me with it.
“You aren’t supposed to put that on now,”
she says, “are you?  Before you walk up there?”
She’s right, they do it during the ceremony.
I’m just checking to make sure it looks decent.
It’ll be up to Dr. Edelstein to accomplish the task.
When they call my name, I float up on stage worried.
However, he pops it over my head, no problem at all.
Dr. Howes appears from the second row of professors seated on stage.
“Congratulations, Doctor Lee,” he says, shaking my hand.
I move dazed; it’s very much a dream.
I’ve heard little of what led up to my “hooding,”
and I don’t hear most of what is said afterward.
I’ve graduated, have finished my PhD in English,
and I can barely understand English anymore.
It’s been a slow learning process since then,
only 30 short years ago this year.

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