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Once in an Insurance Company in Boston

by Carol Potter

I was engaged as a typist typing vin #’s of trucks
back when we typed and used Wite-Out.
We struck over the same place several times.  The numbers smacked
in one on top of the other in the accumulating white-out.

I was nineteen.  In this capacity I wore the same dress
all week long because I had no other.  The supervisor
walked up and down between our desks to make sure
we did not talk.  Once a man took off all his clothes outside

and climbed the statue of Atlas.  We stood at
the window and watched until she made us sit down.
I was pregnant then but no one could see though Mary
at the desk next to mine kept asking me when I was due.

It was back in the days when you would deny
those things.  In between policies, I would go
into the bathroom and stare at my belly.
Once I asked a man on the bus for a dollar

so I could buy lunch, but I bought cigarettes instead. It was
back when it was okay to smoke and drink while pregnant.
This was before computers.  One day, Bernice’s fingers
started to tingle and then we never saw her again.


Carol Potter’s fourth book, Otherwise Obedient, is due out from Red Hen Press this fall. Recent poems have appeared in Field and The Journal. Native of New England, she lives in Southern California and teaches in the Antioch University MFA program in Los Angeles. (4/2006)

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