Vincent Peloso

What do you say to the woman in tears,

rejected for the third time

by the scholarship committee at the community college

where she goes to school and you teach?

Do you speak of the years devoted to art,

your poems repeatedly rejected,

letters beginning, “We regret to inform you...”

money wasted on contests?

“The money won’t stop me,” she growls.

“I’ll just keep working three part-time jobs

to pay the bills

and stay in school.”

Do you talk about decades of menial work

trying to write at home? Do you

mention the children you never regretted not having

because you had poetry?

She is young enough to be your daughter.

You are old enough to let this fact pass.

Together, you stand facing a view

dwarfing both your lives.

An egret unfolds its wings.

She admits feeling somewhat better.

You do not say it may never get better than this.

You do not.

Vincent Peloso teaches at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. A manuscript of his work was a finalist for the 2010 Bordighera Poetry Prize. His poem, “Boy in the Men’s Locker Room,” was also a finalist for the 2010 James Hearst Poetry Prize.

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