A Working Girl Can’t Win…

This is for all of us who are less than we dreamed we’d be, or more, depending on the day… we lose ourselves in the rush and the rain.. watching as the seductress makes way for the mommy and wife… and wait patiently for her return.

One of my favorite poets, Deborah Garrison, writes about being a woman, a wife, a working girl.

Worked Late on a Tuesday Night

Midtown is blasted out and silent,
drained of the crowd and its doggy day.
I trample the scraps of deli lunches
some ate outdoors as they stared dumbly
or hooted at us career girls-the haggard
beauties, the vivid can-dos, open raincoats aflap
in the March wind as we crossed to and fro
in front of the Public Library

Never thought you’d be one of them,
did you, little lady?
Little Miss Phi Beta Kappa,
with your closetful of pleated
skirts, twenty-nine till death do us
part! Don’t you see?
The good schoolgirl turns thirty,
forty, singing the song of time management
all day long, lugging the briefcase

home. So at 10:00 PM
you’re standing here
with your hand in the air,

cold but too stubborn to reach
into your pocket for a glove, cursing
the freezing rain as though it were
your difficulty. It’s pathetic,
and nobody’s fault but
your own. Now

the tears,
down into the collar.
Cabs, cabs, but none for hire.
I haven’t had dinner; I’m not half
of what I meant to be.
Among other things, the mother
of three. Too tired, tonight,
to seduce the father.

(C) 1998 Deborah Garrison All rights reserved. ISBN: 0-679-45145-5


7 Responses to “A Working Girl Can’t Win…”

  1. April 11, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Working girls can’t win at all.

    Though I consider myself a feminist, I think we always wind up losing a little something in our efforts to have it all.

  2. April 11, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    I love her raw, powerful voice. I need to get this poem framed.

  3. April 12, 2007 at 8:31 am

    This is an apt description of a very bad day, but I don’t think it captures the sum total of a working girl’s (whether in or out of the home) experience. It’s true that lose something in our efforts to “have it all”, but we also can lose something if we don’t. While there’s certainly days I feel like this, there are others when I do feel I’ve “won” when all the pieces that are being juggled are balanced.

    I read this poem as an anthem of getting older, of dreams compromised, of young expectations that aren’t achieved because life gets in the way. I think men can also relate to the feeling in this poem. Any care to weigh in?

  4. April 12, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    man, I’ve been feeling that lately. The deflation of the dreams we thought we’d be, the utter discontent with who life has swept us into being.

    So many of us are disillusioned with the working women we’ve become. It’s weird to turn around and be almost 30 and feel so old and yet that life has so much more left for you, if only you had the time to catch your breath.

    Thanks for posting this. It’s vocalized my thoughts for this week.

  5. April 13, 2007 at 7:43 am

    Wow do I love that. Amazing. I can’t believe I’ve never come across it before. Off to Google Deborah Garrison…

  6. April 13, 2007 at 8:11 am

    LOVE her! Clicked right over when I saw the title of your post in the BlogHer ads box. 🙂

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