Celeste Schantz
Runner-up

at the department of social services

We sit in the failure factories; we, the apparition
of working mothers clutching our utility shut-off notices. This form says provide proof of
your destitution, please summarize your poverty please add emotional abuses in these
two lines please multiply by the darkness of the members of your household; keep your faces
down, fill out the lightyear spaces on these forms; don’t look in
to your neighbor’s eyes, provide a brief estimate of what happened to your life. You were the
American dream, you went to school; you don’t belong in this crowd;
your babies’ faces are soft as fallen petals
brown, pink, yellow innocent and damaged as early blooms splattered on a wet
April morning. One time I saw a woman fall asleep here, hunched over her chair with her black
umbrella; we shouted as her name was called but she just slept, bent down like a breaking bough.

 

 

 

After “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound : “The apparition of these faces in the crowd/petals on a wet, black bough.

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