Poetry Drawer: Miriam by D.S. Maolalai

at the counter
she still gets nervous
whenever she has to count
someone’s change. the door rings
an electric bell
and while each customer browses
she hopes aloud
that they’ll pay by card. it’s easier. and each morning
she asks me
to do the totals – got in trouble once
when it was short all a week
and she was accused of scabbing pennies. a meeting
with hr, and the eventual threat
of retirement. afterward
the manager
did another account;
got a promise from head office
that going forward
she wouldn’t have to open alone. I got
the extra hours. he had justification
to fire her
if he’d wanted to, and he doesn’t
like her much – but instead
he kept her on, in this job
of ten years part-time, allowing her the chance
to mess up the totals each evening, to be snide
at repeat customers,
to stack the shelves
neat at close of business
and go home
listening to 80s rock

D.S. Maolalai is a graduate of English Literature from Trinity College in Dublin and has been nominated for Best of the Web, and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

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