Resigning from a Job in a Defense Industry

The names of things—sparks!
I ran on them like a component:   
Henries, microhenries, Blue   
Beavers, wee wee ductors:   
Biographer of small lives,
Of a plug and his girl named Jack,   
Of Utopian colonies which worked—
Steel, germanium, brass, aluminum,
                   Outside, afloat, my words
Swung an arm charting the woman
Who was the river bottom.

We tried, beyond work, at work,   
To keep what we loved. Near
Christmas I remember the office
Women trimming their desperately   
Glittering holy day trees. And,
Just as I left, the company
Talent show, the oils and sentiment   
Thick on still lifes and seacoasts,
The brush strokes tortured as a child’s   
First script. Someone
Had studied driftwood; another man,   
The spray of a wave, the mania
Of waters above torpedoes.

Sandra McPherson, “Resigning from a Job in the Defense Industry” from Elegies for the Hot Season (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970). Copyright © 1983 by Sandra McPherson. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: Elegies for the Hot Season (Indiana University Press, 1970)
More Poems by Sandra McPherson