Poem: First Day at the Job

by Stacy Torian

He watched my hand move. “Sinistral,” he smiled. I admired the word,

a 19th century trinket, gave it a spot on the mindshelf, next to “southpaw.”

He crossed his legs, stressed the importance of my work. “Don’t cut any corners here,” he warned, the blue light of his irises flickering over my brownskin home. He said these words as if he had said them to me many, many times before,

though this was only my first day at the job. He did not say what these corners might look like,

or that they could make themselves invisible, that someone else could cut a corner with a hoof bearing my initials, or turn that corner into a cliff,

that cut corners are as inevitable as a knot on a kid’s head, or cracks in an imperfect earth.

You carry a humiliation inside the living room of your mind for years. You move it around like a painting or a couch, hoping a different position will give it a different look, make it less ugly. You tell yourself it is just a collection of words,

any bonehead could have spoken them, that you did not invent cut corners, that they’ve been around for a long time, since the time when cutting and falling were about all we humans ever did. It is nice to think these thoughts, just as it is nice to imagine a world with no dominant hand.

I am either strange or cursed. I live with my left hand, slice with my right. A clumsy cutter with a fierce scissor hold. I couldn’t care less about a corner. It’s all I can do to stay steady and straight, keep my blades clean, keep my eyes on the line.

This poem first appeared on the Weekly Wafer section of this website on February 19, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: