A Chance

A girl drops my composition class.
She tells me in a note
she won’t be back.
She’s not ready for this class.
I gave her a no credit on her first assignment.
It suffered from fundamental errors.
After class, she told me she’d worked harder
on this paper
than she’s ever worked before.
She told me her friends had told her
the paper was fine.
Even her mother had told her it was good.
“But you say it isn’t,” she said.

I’m seventeen when my family has to move.
We’ve got eight kids, so
the walls need repair.
My dad and I stay behind to do it.
He hands me a spackle knife
And a wad of newspaper.
He says, “Use the newspaper to fill the holes.
Then butter on the spackle.
Not too much:
You’ll have to sand it
when it dries.
After you sand we’ll paint.”
He goes upstairs
To start on the bathroom.

I stand in the hall
holding the knife and the newspaper.
A grudge fills me:
Why do I have to do this?
What good can it do me?
When my dad comes back downstairs
and sees that I haven’t started,
he picks up the knife and the spackle.
He screws some newspaper into a hole.
He pastes on some spackle.
He faces me, the knife and spackle in his hands.
“Okay,” he says, offering me a chance.
“Now you.”

:: Marc Petersen, This Is My Brother Talking (1998)

No comments:

Post a Comment