Longlisted Poem 2013

Helen Spalding

Cheltenham Ladies College, Gloucestershire

My Last Contract

Then no one noticed me, I was surprised I got the interview.  New York too, the Big Apple.
He smiled.  Business man.  Faceless above the tie.  He must have had a mouth, I guess.
Enter, It must have said. Maybe a moustache too?  I don’t remember much.

Desk was in the corner.  Bad Feng Shui and the sound of flames.  Faulty vents I’d thought.
Everything was so … Clean.  Gleaming white.  Glow in the dark, not a mark.
Very nice.  (Not a mark anywhere)
I said, broke the silence.  Air con was on, too loud, too cold.  Burning.
Look closer, it whispered of children’s tears in sordid slums, bleeding fingers, but

I didn’t.  When it is too good to be true, have faith,  ain’t that what Pope someone said?
Sssalary.  Juices seeped from between his teeth.  My muddy sole’s print on the floor.   Sorry sir.

In his hand a piece of paper shines, a fallen angel.  In here it seems brighter than the sun.  Those
Never ending lines, too many to read them all.  Fingers over fine print, he sang my dreams to me.

To me, he whispered, Sssign, child, sssign, why do you hesssitate?
His mouth, he must have had a mouth, smiled
Excellence desservess the bessst.  We are competitive, yesss, but a little heat won’t hurt?

Darkness calls.  Darkness is so loud.  I know that now.  Newton’s head must have stung.
Employees here are valued, and we provide dental care.  Crunch.
That’s when I took the pen, and…
And made everything clean, gleam, like my sole had never been, printed on those shining tiles
Infinity, he said, is sssuch a sssmall price to pay
Lines, I’ve learnt, don’t always lead one way.  Voices scream worlds away.
See it yet?  I didn’t… Too late now.  Hell, my dears, is office grey.
© Helen Spalding

Project Details

  • Date January 8, 2015
  • Tags 2013 The Details - Longlisted Poems