I’ve known the pleasures of being
fired at least eleven times—
most notably by Larry who found my snood
unsuitable, another time by Jack,
whom I was sleeping with. Poor attitude,
tardiness, a contagious lack
of team spirit; I have been unmotivated
squirting perfume onto little cards,
while stocking salad bars, when stripping
covers from romance novels, their heroines
slaving on the chain gang of obsessive love—
and always the same hard candy
of shame dissolving in my throat;
handing in my apron, returning the cash-
register key. And yet, how fine it feels,
the perversity of freedom which never signs
a rent check or explains anything to one’s family.
I’ve arrived again, taking one more last
walk through another door, thinking “I am
what is wrong with America,” while outside
in the emptied, post-rushhour street,
the sun slouches in a tulip tree and the sound
of a neighborhood pool floats up on the heat.
Copyright © 2000 Erin Belieu
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.