9 to 5 Poetry Project, Poem 17: Tears and Grease

Happy Monday, internet people! I’m ashamed to say that a Twilight reference popped into my head when I typed the number 17, but on the bright side, it took me a minute to realize that’s what it was. Anyway, if I didn’t lose you with that last comment, here is poem 17!

Like all of my poems, this one is just a draft, but I think it’s one of my favorite ones. I like the potential and human-ness in it. I hope you will agree!

Tears and Grease

I was not thinking of sadness at 8:30,
As, bite by delicious bite, I devoured
A grease-laden sausage McMuffin,
Paired with a hash brown so damp
It clung to the wrapper, desperately
Trying to dodge death, but defeated.
These the cheap, calorie-laced spoils
Of my fourth customer service meeting.

I did not consider crying at noon,
When I mopped orange residue
From two slices of Marco’s cheese pizza,
The company-paid reward for the now
Compromised credit of satisfactory numbers.
The REACH motto fresh in my mind,
I smiled and greeted, forcing friendliness
Into the space between awkwardness and warmth.

At 1 pm, however, I cried.
Hot, angry tears stinging reddened cheeks,
After a simple string of curt words spat
Over the employee-only radio system.
Even as I hunched, sobbing, in her office,
I could not explain my anger, or my tears.

A soft, sensitive pair of women—
The sarcasm there so sharp,
You must sense it through the keystrikes.
I, tall and stoic, who cry easily,
But have a temper to rival my mother,
Determined to lift heavy merchandise
Just to prove that I, a shy young woman, can.

And she—what must be there,
Behind a stoic face and a tone always sharp
With foreignness, impatience?
An ocean between her and family,
Two dozen inches between her searching face
And mine, coated with non-waterproof mascara.

There is no tenderness in this small room,
And yet, there are tears, apologies—
Even an awkward, brief embrace.
We are both comprised of intentionally sharp
Edges. I can barely fathom my own.
How will I ever claim to comprehend hers?


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