Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

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Jenny Factor

The Street Hawkers

For Bob Bowen, on August 14th at the Antioch Library Reading

Who will speak for the fruit
Abundant in the summer harvest?
This guy on the corner of San Gabriel

And First, wearing his red baseball cap
Backward, salutes us with a bag
Of cherries and leaps into traffic

With a jaunty hand. Who will speak
For crates of oranges ripened on the tree,
For the great waves of zucchini

Trucking to the markets. And when the markets
Turn them away, for the workers who take in
These fruity orphans and lift them up

On each summer corner
Like a flag, like a shield, like some
Dangling offer of surrender?

In median strips
Beside shut Volvo windows,
Along the routes of our endlessly going

These orphans and these vegetables,
These fruits and these orphans
In our country, in our America

With supplications and with foreign mouths
With winnowing eyes, and with calloused hands
Every day ripening, on every corner.

Who will speak for this abundance, for this
Crop of summer that no one is
buying? Will you speak? Or you?

Will I?

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 84, No. 1 (Spring 2010), p. 58

Jenny Factor

Jenny Factor serves on the Core Faculty of Antioch University-Los Angeles's MFA program, the nation's only low-residency MFA program devoted to literature and the pursuit of social justice. Her poetry collection, Unraveling at the Name (Copper Canyon P) was a finalist for a 2002 Lambda Literary Award.

After graduating from Harvard College and later the Bennington Writing Seminars, Factor worked as an editor, a contract archaeologist, and a Montessori preschool teacher. Other jobs she has had include archaeologist, preschool teacher, editor, staff writer, college teacher, and writer’s assistant.