Have you ever read a poem and realized that the poet has somehow snatched your body and experience, and transcribed both into a lyrical expression of your reality? There was a time, in the late 90s, working in New York, when the poetry of Deborah Garrison gave voice to those who believed you could have it all.
The Friday poem this week is ‘Worked Late on a Tuesday Night’, with Garrison’s words still relevant, even if Uber robs us of the experience of standing in the freezing rain trying to hail a cab.
Worked Late on a Tuesday Night
Midtown is blasted out and silent,
drained of the crowd and its doggy day.
I trample the scraps of deli lunches
some ate outdoors as they stared dumbly
or hooted at us career girls—the haggard
beauties, the vivid can-dos, open raincoats aflap
in the March wind as we crossed to and fro
in front of the Public Library.
Never thought you’d be one of them,
did you, little Lady?
Little Miss Phi Beta Kappa,
with your closetful of pleated
skirts, twenty-nine till death do us
part! Don’t you see?
The good schoolgirl turns thirty,
forty, singing the song of time management
all day long, lugging the briefcase
home. So at 10:00 PM
you’re standing here
with your hand in the air,
cold but too stubborn to reach
into your pocket for a glove, cursing
the freezing rain as though it were
your difficulty. It’s pathetic,
and nobody’s fault but
your own. Now
down into the collar.
Cabs, cabs, but none for hire.
I haven’t had dinner; I’m not half
of what I meant to be.
Among other things, the mother
of three. Too tired, tonight,
to seduce the father.
Deborah Garrison ‘A Working Girl Can’t Win: and other poems’ 1998