Until twenty I was just another hairnet,
my hands part of the great machinery

like a congress of sparrows, a dynamo
powered by gossip and wintergreen.

Every bearing was sticky as an old lip.
Many of the ladies on the lifetime plan

considered me inferior, gawked evil
as I unfolded the waxed paper around

my egg sandwich. Did they know rich
people had the same problems that we

did, only larger? Half the moon pies
we packaged that night would perish

before they made it to a banishment
of incisors. In private, I drafted pages

of an historical thriller, pictured
its cover in a vat of undulating paste

that occasionally resembled blue veins
pinwheeling a breast. The lifers

had at least one jail boyfriend, one
free boyfriend, and sometimes both

would approach the back dock,
smoking thin cigarettes or chewing

pistachio shells like ammunition.
Those nights I was just the floor girl.

A pair of gloves balled up on a shelf.
Two floury footprints out the door.


Mary Biddinger
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