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.