Alford
Scathing Ode to Manager #2
by Elizabeth Alford

What’s under the bridge
of your frown: the one I always see
in crossing your weather-beaten path?
Might there be a heart at work,
deep down—a beating heart
that still bleeds red, a heart that beats
for one besides itself?

A great heart blazing bright like the sun:
your great companion, your superior,
with her enviable fairness, figure, and blond hair.
You like her, but what of the rest of us?
We are like fat, fluffy clouds
compared with your gray storminess.

For I have heard the muttered
scathings that you utter
when you think our backs are turned.
You think that we are deaf to you
as you are deaf to us, so used to
thundering over us
and our protests of innocence.

Like a lightning strike, you pierce the night
when you call us to your side. And I have heard
the muffled sound of raindrops beating ground
once you’ve disappeared from sight.

But, also…
I have heard about the child
you once protected with your life;
the almost-mother that you were and are;
the scars inside your empty womb and heart;
the windy bridge by which you mourn,
remembering how fair life used to seem
back when your eyes were young like ours.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Bathroom selfie during my work break. Taken July 13, 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been sitting on this poem for a long time. I used to work as a sales associate for a plus size retail company and was frequently scolded by this moody manager in front of customers. Not cool. And in spite of the fact that I was pretty damn good at my job, as evidenced by my consistently positive attitude, 110% work ethic, and impressive sales records. But the more the scoldings added up, the unhappier I was, so I eventually gave my two weeks’ notice and moved on with my life. Still, she is human, with her own burdens to bear, and I don’t forget that.

Alford author photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Alford lives and writes primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, and tends to see a situation from every angle (whether she wants to or not). Among other things, she loves caffeine, short poetry, and cuddling with her dog. Her work has recently appeared at One Sentence Poems, brass bell, the other bunny, and Failed Haiku. Visit her Facebook page.