She learned the meaning of industry
From Sunday school sermons
on Protestant virtue,
the third little pig,
the spider not the fly,
and the squirrel putting up supplies
for the barren season
The pin-striped powerhouse
with the bag lady fears
works into the night,
stockpiling acorns for the winter
(sometimes goes to the piano bar
down the street and listens
to torch songs by candlelight
and a glass of Chardonnay).
She rises early and sets a solitary
shoulder against the boulder of her days
as if building a bulwark
against the treason of time
A dike against the flood of things
one can't control
Stacking sandbags and mudpacks
against wrinkles, infirmity and the lover
with a taste for variety,
Or breasts that head south for the winter
never to return.
Every morning it's the same rock,
the same slippery slope,
Every morning she measures out hope
in vitamins, antioxidants, and
forty-five minutes of step aerobics
and free weights.
But no matter.
amidst the sprinkling of grey hairs
that haunts her in the mirror
is the caustic mirage
of shopping carts piled high
with the pick of the morning's garbage
and her image bundled in tattered
overcoats to ward off the cold.