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Don't Sweat It

"All signs point to a confession."

Published onJun 21, 2023
Don't Sweat It

Photo by Vojtech Okenka:

Jake, night custodian empties the waste basket,
asks, tonight? I nod. Alone in my office, I wait
to interview for the job. The one I have been doing

for the last six months. I am principal, interim-acting.
Don’t sweat it. Kick some ass. My husband calls,
wishes me good luck at my C-30. Across the sky the moon

crawls, oozes yellow. Interviewers flood the building.
Smell of take-out food—eggplant parmigiana, coffee
and Italian dressing; they will dine on. While I wait.

I guess at which interviewer eats salad. On the street,
two dogs lock muzzles, groan. Separate. A first grader
rang the fire alarm during six period. Told him, I’d call

his mother. All signs point to a confession. Applicants sit
on chairs outside the food laden room. I am last.
I stare at the sidewalk, below a gray squirrel stops, hands

raised as if in prayer. Say one for me.
I make it up the stairs, wipe a name tagged in green
from the wall. Breathe in twice what remains of the eggplant.

An applicant passes me. The room full of parents,
staff, the superintendent and former principal. Everything
depends on my answer to three questions:

How will you improve the New York State exams?
What will your school look like in five years?
Attendance remains low. Tell us your plan?

Roxanne Cardona was born in New York City of Puerto Rican heritage. She was a principal and educator in the South Bronx and is finishing up a manuscript based on her experiences. She has been published in One Art: A Journal of Poetry, Connecticut River Review, Pine Hills Review, Mason Street, Ethel Zine, Constellations, Commuter Lit, (where her poem “Raven” was chosen for poetry week) and elsewhere. Roxanne lives in New Jersey with her husband.

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