Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Monday, January 9, 2012

Working Girls

There'll always be working people in my poems because I grew up with them, and I am a poet of memory.  (Philip Levine)


For Manon, wherever I may find her

The shop floor foreman hasn’t got a clue
to where the new employee’s coming from –
the incense and the ice of Xanadu,
the flame and fury of Byzantium.

He knows for sure she doesn’t give a shit
about the piecework in her packing crate –
she checks the clock; at five, she’s first to split.
It’s no damn wonder that she can’t make rate.

He’s noticed, too, the woman can be seen
each morning, scribbling in a steno pad,
an island in the boisterous canteen.
Whatever’s eating her, she’s got it bad.

He’s right. Her day job’s pretty hard to take
with grace and grit; and she won’t last too long,
demanding honey-dew on coffee break;
for no good reason, bursting into song.


(by Catherine Chandler -- originally published in Umbrella, Fall 2007)

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