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Dove

 
Rita Dove
b. 1952

"My Mother Enters the
Work Force"

(From Mother Love, 1995)

 
The path to ABC Business School
was paid for by a lucky sign:
Alterations, Qualified Seamstress Inquire Within.
Tested on Sleeves, hers
never puckered puffed or sleek,
Leg o' or Raglan
they barely needed the damp cloth
to steam them perfect.

Those were the afternoons. Evenings
she took in piecework, the treadle machine
with its locomotive whir
traveling the lit path of the needle
through quicksand taffeta
or velvet deep as a forest.
And now and now sang the treadle,
I know, I know....

And then it was day again, all morning
at the office machines, their clack and chatter
another journey rougher,
that would go on forever
until she could break a hundred words
with no errors ah, and then

no more postponed groceries,
and that blue pair of shoes!

© Rita Dove
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