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My mother’s younger sister,

one of 18,000 “Women of the Mart”

who got to vie for the title

“world’s most beautiful office girl,”

a few thousand of them

like a conveyance of pollinators—

with golden lavalieres

and rouge of crimson

or carmine, a brilliance,

that might have competed

with the sun’s burnt orange,

gliding over a thousand

rectangled windows

to overlook the north bank

of the Chicago River.

Each woman lined up,

moved elegantly

one by one, to her hive

on time,   bright,   chipper,

the yearly reward,

a handshake from the boss.

At this fortress of proper and pretty,

young women dedicated to the Mart,

no spouse or family to distract

from a lifetime career,

and a free lunch every day,

just as the building itself displayed

a cheeky and exquisite chamfering,

a cutting away to create symmetry

to reduce friction, and provide

a smooth and seamless appearance.




Jean Cassidy, 2023

art and education, family history, poetry, womens history, WOMENS LIVES, womens work

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