Rita Dove


My Father Enters the Work Force


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!

Submitted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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