Today is Poetry At Work Day. Since I've been working from home for months, I have easy access to a lot of my own poetry, some about my work, some about another person's work. This one is a particular favorite and was previously featured on the web page of an NPR show the no longer exists in the particular form it was in 2000. I think it prety much sums up the first work day of a new business in my town.
“We’ve been crushed all day,” says the man behind the counter
who unlike the other workers, wears a crisp, embroidered, denim shirt,
denoting his position as a higher authority, maybe even the franchise owner.
All day long they’ve been doling out coffee, doughnuts and ice cream
like Atlantic City card dealers- here’s your hand, let me scoop up your money.
By 8 PM, the stock is depleted, not a chocolate doughnut in sight
but the ice cream counter can make up for that
even though the night is unseasonably chilly for June
big dollops of mint chocolate chip tantalize the lips of customers
some who stay to revel in the clean newness,
sitting at the burgundy tables, scraping the floor with the heavy wooden chairs,
leaving chocolate sprinkles, doughnut crumbs in their wake.
A huge van equipped for cross-country travel tries to park outside the window
back and forth it goes trying to fit, while the children inside
illegally unrestrained, press their faces against the window.
Finally they are in the space and the door slides open
and out bounds Dad with three in tow - pale blondes,
one for each hand, and one to hold his shirt tail.
Inside he picks up the youngest and stands him on the counter, leaning far over
to see what doughnuts are left.
Hidden behind the line of coffee drinkers, soda buyers and ice cream lickers,
the other two children discover the freezer and it’s all too easy to open the door,
inside, a wonderland of ice cream cakes, complete with sparkling trims
little plastic graduation hats, diplomas and glitter.
It seems perfectly logical to help daddy out and bring him the cake
and they drag it by the box until the corners give out
and the ice cream cake with its chocolate top
and frozen roses and crunchy bottom
rolls out of the box and onto the floor,
in front of amused coffee drinkers who have no idea that the cake is real.
And daddy, who notices at last, shoves the mutilated frozen treat
back into the box, and back into the freezer,
and quickly departs with his purchases, and his three little blondes,
two of whom seem confused that they have no ice cream.
Finally some one asks, are those real cakes, or just displays,
and finding out they are indeed consumable,
tells the tale of the upside down cake -
which is immediately removed by the teenage girls
who dish out the ice cream in their white shirts and hats
and the glitter is swept up and the melted ice cream mopped up
as the dealers at the counter don’t miss a beat
pouring the coffee, wrapping the donuts, collecting the money,
smiling and hoping this crush of business
continues after opening night.
©2000 Noreen Braman