one third passion, two thirds pride

My boss thought
I looked down on my job
because I was honest:
it’s very useful
and specific
but it’s not
the kind of job
that you can own.

Of course, she
did have one point:
I have the ghosts
of my parents
whispering over my shoulder.
What’s a girl like me
doing in physical labor?
Overeducated, both of them,
laying their expectations
on my tiny shoulders.
I had college
planned by kindergarten.

Maybe I do
think I could do better.

But she doesn’t hear
me defend it to the death.

“What’s a skinny
thing like you
doing pushing
my fat ass?”

“They should have
a man doing this.”

Never mind that
I run circles
around some
of the men
who have my title,
never mind the
muscle I’ve fought
to pack onto my arms.

It’s honest work,
I always say.
It’s cheaper
than a gym membership.

Who says you
can’t be smart
and strong?
Why should my mind
disqualify me
from hard manual work?

Some of my
best poems have come
fresh after work,
my legs tired
but mind racing.

And I think
my parents would
be proud;
my dad was, anyway,
but he was
an easier mark.

The real secret
is that I’ve found
meaning in every
job I’ve ever had.
I’d go mad if I couldn’t.


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