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Saturday At The Canal

September 5, 2008
tags:
I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.
School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,
An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team
Was going to win at night. The teachers were
Too close to dying to understand. The hallways
Stank of poor grades and unwashed hair. Thus,
A friend and I sat watching the water on Saturday,
Neither of us talking much, just warming ourselves
By hurling large rocks at the dusty ground
And feeling awful because San Francisco was a postcard
On a bedroom wall. We wanted to go there,
Hitchhike under the last migrating birds
And be with people who knew more than three chords
On a guitar. We didn’t drink or smoke,
But our hair was shoulder length, wild when
The wind picked up and the shadows of
This loneliness gripped loose dirt. By bus or car,
By the sway of train over a long bridge,
We wanted to get out. The years froze
As we sat on the bank. Our eyes followed the water,
White-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town.

Gary Soto

Soto (b. 1952) was born in Fresno, California, to working-class Mexican American parents. He grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, and worked as a migrant laborer in California’s rich agricultural regions. Uncertain of his abilities, he began his academic career at Fresno City College, moving on to California State University, Fresno, and the University of California, Irvine, where he earned an M.F.A. degree (1976).

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