Janine Joseph: Shift

I made my way around the front
to clock in, washed my hands,
dried them, and tied my apron strings.
I pulled an extra large skin off
the tray and coated both sides with flour.
I laid the risen dough backside-up
and pressed out from the center
with the heel of my hand.
I flared it in the air,
my left arm spinning clockwise
and my right counter.
I topped it. I set the timer.

I watched her clock in,
stood in front of the oven
with the wooden paddle.
I turned the knob to start the rotating shelves.
I sliced slices with a rocking
knife; folded boxes closed
and folded extra boxes.
I filled the flour bowl
and filled the flour bin.
I carried bags of flour,
threw an order in. I washed my hands again.

So I was thinking
about you earlier. About what
you said, she said. What about
what I said, I said.

She washed her hands
and handed me an order. You’re like
Clark Kent, she said.

I pulled a screen, whirled the sauce
and slid the skin for her to cheese.

I threw away a soggy box
and restocked the mushrooms
and restocked the hand soap.
I moved aside the bags of yeast,
wiped the cutting table down
and sliced onions into a tub.
I crossed the onions off the list,
I broke the slicer down
and put it in the sink.
I dragged another tub of sauce
from the walk-in.

You’ve lost it, I said. I’m serious, she said,
sticking a knife to the magnetic strip.
With your
secret identity and all.

She stood by the register
with one leg propped like a flamingo.
I’m just saying, she sang.



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