November 16, 2020

T.R. Poulson

I WANT TO DATE A MAN WHO’S LIKE A DOG

confession of a UPS driver

This didn’t begin with dogs, but with a stack
of boxes and the twisting of my knee
between, beneath them, even as they smacked

the pavement, then the doctor’s quick decree:
A contusion (just a bruise). You’ll be mended
in a week or two. My boss agreed

and left me on my route, where dogs friended
me for treats. At first, my knee would tighten
at night until it could not be extended

in the morning without pain, lightened
by ibuprofen. It loosened with every stride
I took, and every box I touched, but heightened

from one day to the next, with the pull and slide
of a torn MCL (the doc was wrong).
I smiled at humans, smothered truth with pride.

I’ve read that dogs can hear a whistled song
from miles away, can smell agony through layers
of flesh. They nosed my knee and used their tongues

to slurp it all away. Those pink conveyors,
wet and unafraid to find something. To feel. To take.

from Rattle #69, Fall 2020
Tribute to Service Workers

__________

T.R. Poulson: “I am a UPS driver, and every day I struggle to find balance between work and writing. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything. My communities of writers provide support for my writing, but it is my blue-collar world that provides inspiration for what to write about. Though I rarely write directly about work, it’s in everything I write: reimagined versions of my customers, my coworkers, the settings I would never discover if I did not do what I do. Covid-19 has changed so many things. I find myself writing about my customers’ dogs—because they are what’s keeping me sane.”

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