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Three Persons

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That slow person you left behind when, finally,
you mastered the world, and scaled the heights you now command,
where is he while you
walk around the shaved lawn in your plus fours,
organizing with an electric clipboard
your big push to tomorrow?
Oh, I’ve come across him, yes I have, more than once,
coaxing his battered grocery cart down the freeway meridian.
Others see in you sundry mythic types distinguished
not just in themselves but by the stories
we put them in, with beginnings, ends, surprises:
the baby Oedipus on the hillside with his broken feet
or the dog whose barking saves the grandmother
flailing in the millpond beyond the weir,
dragged down by her woolen skirt.
He doesn’t see you as a story, though.
He feels you as his atmosphere. When your sun shines,
he chortles. When your barometric pressure drops
and the thunderheads gather,
he huddles under the overpass and writes me long letters with
the stubby little pencils he steals from the public library.
He asks me to look out for you.


Source: Poetry (December 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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Three Persons

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  • Poet, essayist, and critic Vijay Seshadri was born in India and came to the United States at the age of five. He earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from Columbia University.

    Seshadri is the author of Wild Kingdom (1996); The Long Meadow (2003), which won the James Laughlin Award; and 3 Sections (2013), which won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The Pulitzer committee described the book as “a compelling collection of poems that examine human consciousness, from birth to dementia, in a voice that is by turns witty and grave, compassionate and remorseless.”

    Seshadri has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the NEA, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has worked as an editor at the New Yorker and has taught at Bennington College and Sarah Lawrence College, where he currently directs the graduate non-fiction writing program.

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