On Working in a Shop

By Laura Theis

Cycling to work along the towpath

by the river to the sound of my crumbling

bike’s creaking – I notice the willows

have turned their long hair auburn.

 

I suppose this marks the beginning

of autumn, which must mean that I have been

working in the same job in the same shop

for over a year now.

 

What have I learned? That the soul

is resilient. It will refuse to be crushed

by tedium. Instead it will latch

onto little delights; and thrive.

 

For while I take no particular pleasure

in the mopping and vacuuming, the dusting,

smiling, serving, being paid for politeness, there is one

task in my workday that makes my bored heart soar:

 

Holding a sharp pocket knife, I slice open boxes

finding the catch between two flaps of cardboard I sever

their brown tape like tendons and out

spill their contents: a perpetual Christmas.

 

In another life I might have been a butcher,

a hunter or fisher, maybe an assassin…

But in this one I wield my little knife

disemboweling boxes, almost content.

© 2020 harana poetry

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