tuum est – by Madi Pomreinke

welcome to ubc freshman orientation

i hope you brought your rain jacket!

you’re going to need it to save you

from all of the bullshit we’re about to dump on you.


the first thing you should know is that ubc is

a place of community.

we’re here to help you

live well to learn well.

unless you have a mental illness.

unless you have a disability.

unless you’re a minority.

unless you’re queer.

unless you can’t afford it.

unless you’re a woman.

unless you’ve been raped.

because we’re the image of progress

here at ubc – look at all of our

recycling bins!


try out first year residence

if you’re new to the area.

you’ll make great friends.

you’ll eat dinner with them.

you’ll follow them to San Francisco

you’ll smoke your first cigarette and

toss it off the golden gate.

you’ll make a new home

within the arms of other people.


that they’re a safe enough place

for your heart.


one of them will take your body

and break it on top of a

shitty dorm bed.

for months after

you’ll feel like slitting your throat

when you think of his hands

unbuttoning your jeans.

when you finally get the words out,

they all will make excuses

for him –

he was drunk he doesn’t remember.

you’ll spend your student loan money

on plan b and pepper spray.

people you once cried with

in the dark

will say that you just want attention.

you’ll spend the next year

tearing down walls with your hands

and realizing that you now

have nothing but splinters.


you’ll be too ruined

to let anyone touch you.

every hello another threat,

every hand a new bruise.

you will learn to never feel

safe and forget

how to raise your voice.

you will walk past groups of boys

with your eyes focused

on the pavement,

too afraid of recognizing

his face.


you’ll cancel plans,

you’ll cancel plans,

you’ll cancel plans.

and then you will no longer

be invited.

you’ll spend Friday nights

watching old episodes of the x-files

and googling ways to kill yourself

that won’t hurt too much.


when you tell student health that you’re


you will have to get a referral.

you will be put on a four month waiting list.

you will be sent to a male

psychiatrist who

makes a joke when you tell him

about what happened last December.

you’ll wait three more months for

a female psychiatrist to have an opening,

the whole time calling student health

on a weekly basis, begging for help,

because you want to die,

but you think maybe you already have.


the new psychiatrist

will put you on meds that don’t work

and dismiss

your problems as

academic stress,

a pre-existing mental illness,

and a negative outlook on life.

she’ll discourage you from reporting.

you’ll miss a few appointments

because you can’t get out of bed

and soon stop going altogether.

ubc will charge you $334 for wasting

their time.


your gpa will drop

because there are too many days

where leaving your house

feels like kicking a chair out from

underneath and

you can only ask to borrow notes

so many times.

you’ll be given a “late withdrawal”

from your german class

for missing a midterm

even when you provide doctors notes

and try to explain everything

that has happened this year

in the too short fifteen minutes that

arts advising schedules for you.

you won’t get your $500 back

because rules are rules.

it’s in the syllabus.


you’ll stop calling home because

you don’t know how to lie to your

parents anymore.

you’ll stop eating anything other

than microwave popcorn and

campbells chicken noodle

because nothing else stays down

and everything feels like sand in your mouth


you’ll stare at bottles of pills

at three AM

because your boyfriend forgot to call.

you’ll start burning your wrists

with the pink lighter

one of your old friends

gave to you for Christmas

freshman year.


you’ll debate dropping a few classes,

go from five to four to three a term.

you’ll debate dropping out school altogether.

you’ll debate dropping out of life completely.

you’ll learn to hate yourself

a little bit more

every time you cry in the shower.

because who else can you blame?

they always said

it was up to you.