Zoë Huettl

Across the windshield
The scraper screams.
Even the dove-gray morning
As it rises
Can’t strike back. 

Burnt breakroom coffee
The Styrofoam cup—
Lumpy with grounds and undissolved sugar.
But it’s something
To sip while I slather petroleum
On my feet to stop them
Blistering. Under the angry yellow
Fluorescents my skin is shaded sallow,
Against my cheap work boots.

Dad better not be up
At home, there’s no one
To lift him
Not like his chair
That raises on spindly metal
Legs to put him
On his own. A mossy green thing,
Hulking, that looms over him
Until he lowers it. 

Over me: the ceiling-scraping shelves,
Pallet on pallet. My tablet pings
With a new pick,
A blue-dotted trail 

I follow through the warehouse.
For the next hours
I’m the tablet’s overstretched body:
A majestic machine
That will outlive my father, will eat
The cartilage out of my knees. 

Zoë Huettl studies English Literature, Poetry, and Secondary Education. She hopes to teach English to high school students, with an emphasis on personal and creative writing. She can often be found in alleys and parks with her dog, Harper.