Diana van den Berg (4 November 1945 / Durban, South Africa)
Needles and Pins
Let the hard times roll
on oddly cornered wheels.
I am ready for them.
Do your worst.
I can take your punches,
On the salary you pay,
who can afford to eat?
It must make you feel powerful
to destroy (or so you think)
a woman the same age as your mother,
but stronger than you,
and who refuses to be manipulated
nor to be fearful of you
and who has more integrity
in either of her littlest toenails
than you have in your
whole money-hungry body.
You employ those you believe
are desperate for employment
so that you can pay them
as little as possible
and take more and more
from them as time goes by.
You’re probably right with all the rest,
but not with me.
I will never be so desperate
as to let anyone tread on my rights,
least of all with delight –
even though I may lose my beloved house and garden,
though I intend to fight for them
with infinitely more vigour than I will fight
for my stupid job.
For a start, I will not sign your invalid contract
especially not ten months after you employed me.
Your vicious attempts at constructive dismissal
have been a dismal failure, haven’t they?
I am tougher than you think.
However, until today, I felt triumphant,
but now I am starting to lose my fighting spirit.
I see now that you are no longer taking one step at a time,
but that you have been positioning over time,
your knights and bishops surreptitiously
and I see they are starting to surround me.
And there is your queen hiding in the background.
And even that silly little pawn –
for who would not be a pawn in your grubby hands
(except me, of course) .
And that ever-hidden ever-changing agenda!
There are no rules for those with no conscience
so that gives you a massive advantage.
My conscience binds me to the rules.
However, my undear boss,
whether I take you to court
or you take me – that would be preferable to me
all I need to do is to turn up (prepared) :
and no matter who wins or loses
I will win and you will lose
because God will get you for what you did
and I WILL make my business pay enough
to keep my house and garden
and to pay for food for my dog and cat
and I WILL be happy
very especially happy
You, unfortunately for you,
are saddled with yourself
forever and ever
(23 August 2011)
Comments about this poem (Needles and Pins by Diana van den Berg )
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