Worker – Age 55

The corn discharges its flavor like a battery and I feel everything with the anxious fingers of the newly disemployed.

Writing by Cynthia Gallaher
Art by Katy Somerville

Worker – Age 55

I’ve carried a piece of Indian corn

under my tongue all autumn,

while a squirrel waits for me

on my back porch every morning.

I see leaves in 

eight shades of orange

go on for miles in the city.

Some offer resistance

to the powers of October,

but fall, nonetheless, 

into the Indian summer ground,

passed over by winter.

The corn discharges its flavor

like a battery.

I feel everything 

with anxious fingers 

of the newly disemployed,

and see what took years

of endless summers,

scatter like so many acorns.

Newspapers blow under my footfall,

but steel toes 

can’t get a grip

on the classifieds.

There are no jobs for us, 

but only to stop life’s pages 

from blowing worthlessly as tumbleweed,

littering an urban desert.

A single seed of corn

lies under my tongue

like something young,

like hope,

but the same yellow form

is reflected like a mote

from my late husband’s eye.

I bury the kernel

in a small patch of earth,

in the park at Irving and Central,

and pray the squirrel,

who’s waited so long,

so respectfully,

goes quickly in quest of it,

unearthing it from under the snow,

like a tiny cold sun, come January.

About the Author

green mountain with river in the middle

Cynthia Gallaher, a Chicago-based poet, is author of four poetry collections, including Epicurean Ecstasy: More Poems About Food, Drink, Herbs and Spices, and three chapbooks, including Drenched. Her award-winning nonfiction/memoir/creativity guide is Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren’t a Poet.

About the Artist

Katy Somerville was beamed into existence on a Monday night in the mid-eighties by stars, glitter, and a glorious Italian woman from a long line of very strong women. In the present timeline, she likes to drink coffee, pat any animal that will engage with her, make collages, and spend time laughing and finding moments of joy wherever she can with her partner and her goofy, lanky dog.

Katy is Cream Scene co-editor & Art Director

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