Third day on the new job and Sue calls.
Will I hurry home and sit with our daughter
while she runs with Sean to the doctor.
I tell the boss why I’m leaving.
He says too bad about the boy and calls
the timekeeper who marks his ledger
and begins to keen for the parents
and for the deaf mute bobbing in the back room
stuffing envelopes and licking them.
I’m four tiles away from the front door
when my co-workers rise from their desks,
zipping their flies, changing their tampons.
They sing, a cappella,
“We’re all going with you.”
Except for the receptionist
who is eight months pregnant.
Her nails are chipping,
her ankles are swelling.
She sits all day, eyes
at the switchboard, ears in receivers,
her stomach a zeppelin
a moment from lift-off.
When the others rush out the door
it’s too much: She screams, throws her
breasts in the air like beach balls
and cries, “What soul among you cares:
For months my vagina’s been itching.”
--Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. One of many Pushcart Prize nominees, he has had poems published in The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Public Republic (Bulgaria), Calliope Nerve and other publications.