My middle school claim to fame
is the name of the yearbook:

In a competition where I was possibly the only applicant,
my suggestion
(I entered four)
won out.
Even at five foot two and fourteen years,
middle school me as concerned with what
we’d leave behind.

In high school, too, yearbook photographers
documented dances, fads, friendships,
marking the pages with our particular fingerprints.
And we started traditions:
Sleepovers, dress-up days, cheers and chants,
rituals passed on to “the next generation.”
Things to be remembered by.

In college, my remnants were smaller,
more personal, artistic, academic.
A series of editorials,
two years’ worth of words about
what I thought was important.
Some particularly well-crafted theses.
A list of passwords to pass on.
A paper cup of wine.

In a career where I might,
if students are anything like me,
still be remembered in ten years
for my antics or wisdom,
the notes I wrote or how much homework I gave,
I still wonder what I’ll leave behind.
My teachers left a passion for words,
a willingness to listen,
a confidence I didn’t know I had.

But in a world where depravity rules,
what does a legacy mean
if it can be smashed with an accusation?
If it’s built on doing wrong?
Who gets to do the erasing from
the halls of history
or the Fortune 500
or the Academy Awards?

In this waiting world,
we’re still talking about a baby
two thousand years later.
That’s a serious legacy.
But we’re still talking, too, about
the wicked kings who tried to kill him
the hypocritical politicians who hated him
and the fickle friends who betrayed him.

In a world where fame and infamy
are two sides of the same coin,
who gets to leave a legacy, anyway?

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