Is this my life?
Am I breathing
With a life carefully measured,
one can find time to tear-up
between four and five p.m.,
before the buzzer rings
for the next shift.
A smart one is a quiet one, a careful one,
refusing to spill milk
to cry over.
"When you're finished with school,
your life will be fine," they said,
thumbs under suspenders,
and I believed them.
Instead, I'm the little engine that could,
and I'm running out of steam.
I'm the little hamster running furiously in the wheel,
working hard, blood pumping
to all the right places,
but getting absolutely nowhere.
"We need to know
where our students are coming from,"
they said. "Some of them
use food pantries."
And I know, because I've seen young people there
while I'm picking up my own generic pasta,
my own off-brand tomato paste.
I'm told that this is America now.
I'm told I'm one of the lucky ones.
Some days, between four and five p.m., I forget.
I allow my brain to shove that file,
full of blessings and prayers,
into the back of the cabinet
so that I can be angry,
so that I can be sad
before starting another shift at a different job,
before trying to be quiet and careful, and failing.