Sunday, May 14, 2017


Consciousness Raising

Fresh from college
I landed the Big Job:
Conglomerate Electric—
expense account, car.
I dressed for success,
like a man, but with breasts
in a navy blazer, starched blouse,
scarf knotted like a tie
at the neck.

I drove the gray maze of freeway
crisscrossing the basin,
selling small electrics
to Savons, The Broadway.
The car was a Plymouth,
AM radio, no air.

Volume up, windows down
I sped the freeways to the Bee Gees
uh uh uh stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
to minimize downtime
I ate lunch while I drove,
foraging my briefcase
for Granola bars stashed
with other vital supplies—
spare pantyhose, tampons
and Valium tucked under brochures
for blow dryers.
Rushing to make a dozen calls a day:
to the drug store whose manager
threatened to kill me
if his order came late,
to the warehouse with rats nested
in returned toaster ovens,
to the five-and-dime
with armed guards
patrolling the aisles,

back to the office where Hustler
fold-outs plastered the phone bank,
where my boss drank gin
from a flask at his desk
and daily asked
for a quickie in the showroom.
None of my friends were happy
in their new careers.
Some went back to school,
took women’s studies
examining their vaginas
with speculum and mirror.
Some joined EST, got their shit together.
Others left their families,
were re-birthed or re-born.
Seventy-nine slouched into eighty,
Reagan elected, John Lennon dead.
No matter how fast I drove
I never got anywhere.
Staying alive
became the only job
I could handle.

--Donna Hilbert

from Transforming Matter PEARL Editions, 1994

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