January, it had to be, after the Christmas
shopping madness, when every garment
must be counted—round racks and straight,
flimsy plastic hangers fingered and moved down
the metal rods. Me, the boss’s daughter, green,
but one more body to help. The boss, too, counts
with everyone else, all hands on deck, his rank
aftershave mixing with the sales clerks’ perfume
in that twilight limbo where we turn,
a carousel set to Muzak—can’t take my eyes
off of you. Doughnuts and cold pizza
in the break room where no one speaks to me.
Slips of paper ticked with grease pencil marks
pile up in a box by the cash register. I’m already
thinking of the silent ride home, algebra homework
waiting for me there, the missing part
of the equation not to be found
anywhere near that midwestern town.
Suzy Harris lives in Portland, OR. Her work has been published in Calyx, Clackamas Literary Review, Timberline Review, Switchgrass Review and several anthologies.