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Post Road Magazine #35

Not on My Résumé + Don't Tell the Flies

Carolyne Wright

Not on My Résumé

"I quit," I meant to tell the manager,
Lurlene, as soon as I ducked into Pizza Haven
that Friday afternoon to collect
my final paycheck.  A day off from
my first crummy job at seventeen.

Tail between my too-thick legs,
I slunk in to the air-conditioned,
cigarette-smoke chill. Skin-damp—
cheese and pepperoni, a greasy-feasty haze.
Pizza Hell, I called the place. 

I was almost ashamed to show up, I was such
a lousy waitress—mixing up orders, begging
smoker co-workers to empty the ashtrays
from my tables, smoothing unused napkins
and pushing them back into the spring-loaded

metal dispensers.  I slowed slowed
slowed the whole operation—even then a Reduce-
Reuse-Recycle fiend before the slogan
had ever been invented.
Lurlene met me in the aisle between tables

whose oil-cloth covers I never could wipe clean.
She straddled the passageway and growled—
"You're fired." Her bulldog jaw worked
as if a wad of chaw had found its rhythm
and was perfecting its moves in her mouth.

"Get yr paycheck n clear out."  She blocked
my way to the kitchen, her eyes drilling me
with a rheumy blue precision.  "I – I . . ."
I stammered, as I had when frat jocks
slapped my derriere and each others' backs,

then stubbed out their Marlboros
in uneaten slices of perfectly good pizza
I could have wrapped up and taken home
on the sly, it would only have been thrown away.
As I'd stammered when Dirk the afternoon

cashier had caught me at the end
of my shift, sliding uneaten slices
wrapped in wax paper into my handbag.
"You can't fire me, I quit," I finally blurted
but Lurlene had already stumped back

to the servers' station to stack the plastic
garlic-bread baskets and yell at the new girl
to wipe down the red-and-white tablecloths
almost as checkered as my résumé
in all the decades since that day.

Don't Tell the Flies
(after Sarah Lindsay, "Tell the Bees")

They need no glad tidings of the studio. Don't clue them in, lest they fatten
in the crawl space between our shelter and their season's end. 
Shout out to them—in silence.  Take down the yellow swatter
from the wall hook and apply it to their window-pane perches
       so the lesson sticks.
Don't tell the flies of our survival triumphs. 
From the palace of chicken curry and fine red wine
that we carry to the dining room throughout this last moon cycle
because appetite is our constant friend, set aside
a sliver of apple crisp and display it just beyond the reach of their wings
making a late summer's chorus of determined cheer.

But ask the cricket that trills under the window ledge.
Ask the pheasants that strut from streambed thickets
and peck beneath the windows.  Ask the magpies wagging their tails
on fence posts, or the Angus heifers bawling to their mothers
across barbed wire after the round-up—their mothers grazing
head-down, already heavy with next spring's calves.
Ask the great blue herons opening their slow wings along the stream
where the entire rookery of stick nests is waiting.
And dew disperses on the alfalfa fields in the dawns of early fall.

Ask the burgeoning willows, and the cottonwoods taking over
           along the bank of Piney Creek.
Ask the brown trout, as they ripple through shadowed shallows,
and the wasps, as they buzz a dozen new layers of paper
around their nests tucked under the eaves.  Mushrooms popping up
           in the garden beds after a late rain
where young garter snakes uncoil themselves for warmth,
camouflaged like rattlers with their diamond-patterned scales.
And the rattlesnake itself delivered to us by careless
           hunters, headless and lorn of its rattles at the creek's edge.
The two-track winding up the slope, where the same hunters follow
the mule deer past No Hunting Signs, over tawny slopes
littered with scoria, on into the next county.

Meanwhile, all of us back at the ranch house, where autumn flies
           pry their way indoors, seeking the echo of summer warmth
and find us—talking, laughing, and trying to block their entry
because the season draws to a close
and everything we have asked of it will change.

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