Parent-Teacher Conference (en Espanol)

If I hadn’t heard those words,
if I hadn’t seen them in black and white
(because sight is a very powerful sense)
and the translator hadn’t sobbed while explaining
what “things at home” meant,
if I hadn’t watched this child in her perfect ballet bun and bow,
with her sunny disposition and sweet Spanish row,
if I hadn’t known that, sometimes, when seeds are sown
and sons are born Cain, not Abel,
fathers die and beaten children go to jail,
if I hadn’t railed against the monetary system,
chosen education,
or sat down in that chair, the air in the conference room dense,
the sadness tactile and immense,
if I hadn’t taught children who’d been abused before,
seen scars from metal hooks, and booze, and cultural lore,
if I hadn’t ever bought into the idea
that DNA can be severed by torment,
that learning to read is some kind of heavenly advent,
I might not have understood what he meant—
the story of her shattered family, marred by
The Bruised Brother Who Stabbed Back—
maybe I wouldn’t have started this descent:
the memory of how I told her to indent
her paragraphs and cement her thesis
as if somehow,
in any way,
an essay can be as important as
the way her innocence once sparkled
or the way he died
choking on blood,
paternity garbled.



About the Poet:
Brittany Fonte holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction. She is the author of three books and coedited a Lambda Literary Finalist Poetry Anthology. She lives in Maryland with her wife and two children and is currently working on a middle grade series.



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