New Job in a Small Office by Donal Mahoney

Third day on the new job and Sue calls.
Will I hurry home and sit with our daughter
while she runs with Sean to the doctor.

I tell the boss why I’m leaving.
He says too bad about the boy and calls
the timekeeper who marks his ledger

and begins to keen for the parents
and for the deaf mute bobbing in the back room
stuffing envelopes and licking them.

I’m four tiles away from the front door
when my co-workers rise from their desks,
zipping their flies, changing their tampons.

They sing, a cappella,
“We’re all going with you.”
Except for the receptionist

who is eight months pregnant.
Her nails are chipping,
her ankles are swelling.

She sits all day, eyes
on the switchboard, ears in receivers,
her stomach a zeppelin

a moment from lift-off.
When the others rush out the door
it’s too much: She screams, throws her

breasts in the air like beach balls
and cries, “What soul among you cares:
For months my vagina’s been itching.”

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