Sunday, November 20, 2011

back

BACK

As in here again but also my aching--
last week at work as I bent repeatedly
picking up trash others had abandoned
on the receiving area floor, I felt something pop
and haven't been right since. This is not
a complaint. I'm pushing through, pushing on,
though it hurts to stand, hurts to sit, hurts
to maneuver down the stairs one at a time
like some octogenarian. Putting on socks
in the morning's an ordeal. I can't kneel
at work to scan the bottom shelves when
taking inventory. Friday, buoyed by pain
relievers and caffeine, I knelt to retrieve
an ink cartridge for a customer and burst
out a yelp like a kicked dog. Apologized.
Handed the cartridge up to her and waved
her to the register across the store, thinking
Can't stay here, thinking How the hell
do I get up? This is not
where I thought I'd be, I said to Marjorie
after the poetry reading on Tuesday, my
first chance in months to attend language
joyfully, publicly, finally free of the shame
of not getting that job, yes, but also
and more importantly of dreading
the what-are-you-working-on chitchat
unavoidable when meeting old friends
who (still) teach. And she agreed, of course
it's odd for us all to look around, look
back, think How on earth? This is not
the end of the world, to be employed
when so many are not, though the pay's
obscenely low--fully half this month's
wages are going to my mechanic to keep
my 15-year-old car roadworthy, and though
the second bill was a shocker (the check
engine light flashing the very day after
the Saturn passed inspection, following
two hundred dollars' worth of repairs),
and though I moaned You guys are killing
me here as I wrote out two more post-dated
checks, handing over half of what
I haven't yet earned, of course I remembered
to thank him for a job well done.

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