Summer School

Allison Thorpe

It was a job I didn’t want
But one my mother scolded
I was lucky to get
Lucky to be hired this summer
Lucky to be making money at your age
Lucky to be spending time together
Lucky lucky lucky

I did odd jobs at a printing plant
Where she slaved away her days
Watching the colorful inked pages
Fill up my summer dance card
Wedding announcements
Church bulletins
Store coupons
They flew around the plant
Like frantic gaudy bats

Around me women of my mother’s age
Sleeveless shirts and flappy arms
Huffed and shrieked their secrets
Open the windows it’s too hot
Close the door I’m freezing
Get me an ice cold soda
Fetch my sweater dear
The women fluctuated the hours
Between the machines’ buzz and hum
Their open/close its own constant droning
A time of clasped cardigans
And hurricane force fans
They smelled of ink and cigarettes
And poked at my shyness
Hinting the trials of womanhood
Yet to be realized

When the windows were open
I would gaze out
At the A & W Root Beer stand
Across the busy road
Like some distant wishing star
Carloads of teenagers spewing
Fun around the picnic tables outside

When the windows were closed
I reflected on the machine song
The dance of dust and paper
Among the women
The colorful lessons of luck settled


Poet Allison ThorpeAllison Thorpe has published widely over the past twenty years. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Green Mountains Review, The Citron Review, Clapboard House, Front Range Review, Freshwater, Dirty Chai, Connecticut River Review, Lingerpost, Trickster, 3 Elements Review, Kindred Magazine, Dead Flowers, Bluestone Review, The Voices Project, Naugatuck River Review, and Motif Volume 4: An Anthology of Writings about Water.