One summer when only seven,
she heard thunderstorms bursting
through skies, watched lightening
slash bright Z’s across night.
Later she studied for hours currents
of mercurial storms and cloud
formations. Stratus, altostratus, cirrus,
cumulus fell swiftly from her lips.
Some places burned with rings of blistering
winds sweeping across the desert. Rains
rammed houses downstream on the plains.
Northern ice bashed trees breaking power lines.
Her desire was to understand grand forces…
tornado, hurricane, drought, blizzard.
Calculating air currents, moisture, heat
or cold indices to predict the atmosphere.
Moods of the sky master puzzled her.
She only knew what she did not know.
Why this same force creates rainbows
yet pummels whole towns with its fists?
She thought of herself as a
modern alchemist. Fluent
in an arcane language
about the composition of so
many minute capsules.
The rest of the store could
be in a gas station or bargain
store. Filled with candies,
lip sticks, other frivolous items.
If you simply had a cough, syrup
could be found on aisle three.
Her area was sacred to patients,
those with serious ailments.
Filling prescriptions navigating
insurance companies, seeking
authorizations. Always aware of
side effects, multiple drug reactions,
possible allergic problems.
Austere yet approachable,
she dispensed heroic potions
from her prized domain
as chemical priestess.
Margie often thought words
just spilled through her fingers.
It was all learned so long ago
by touch typing in school.
Then she was thrilled by winning
an over ninety-words-a- minute
prize. Margie was sure to
transcribe important documents.
She finished the form letter. Now what
must be remembered was paragraph
three goes with addressee list five.
Section seven contains financial
disclosure which only went to top list
number one. Someone would check it.
Technological advances had replaced
people. Equipment never felt sick or
required holidays, vacations, breaks.
Much more cost effective.
Margie wanted to close her eyes
against this flood of words. Shut
her ears against the pounding of
machines, sighs of other operators.
Sally thought everything was
up to luck and she had zero.
Her chances got swept
away with yesterday's trash.
Every day working in this
dumpy dinner slinging hash.
There were the regulars
who knew her name and
left good tips. They had
no place else to go.
Her feet swelled up at
the end of lunch rush.
Sally wiped tables filling
ketchup bottles, salt shakers,
sugar jars while staring out the
window at pulsing rain.
Waiting a half hour for the bus,
winds tangling her hair.
She stopped at the market to
bring a few groceries home.
Struggling now to open her door,
only cold rooms would greet her.
She hoped some would leave,
rise above dirty factory gates
past plumes of smoke spewing
from the cement plant.
Occasionally when discussing
great American novels, the walls
shook. Ravines were blasted
for more rocks to crush into powder.
She wished they would not become
clerks for soul-less chain stores or
cooks in fast food joints where
smells of burning grease lingered.
What was the use of teaching literature
and poetry to these children who would
soon grown listless? Their spirits grinded
down like stones in the quarry.