“The Dramatic Cashier” by Alisha N. Wright

Alisha N. Wright (age 15)


It’s 5:00 p.m. on a never-ending Friday night.
A lovely lady in a pink and blue blouse
claims she has a pick-up order for “Ashley.”
I grab her food,
cash her out,
and stress about the next customer
tapping his feet awaiting this lady
to get out of his way.
She compliments me saying, “I love
your makeup Ma’am.”
As a fifteen-year-old it feels so
Refreshing to be called Ma’am.
My grandma says it makes her feel old.
But it makes me feel alive.
Ms. Ashley did not leave a single
dollar in our jar,
but the only tip I needed was her compliment.
By 7:00 p.m. I’m already dreading
this night to be over.
When customers sit down and look
at me it makes me nervous
as if they secretly know me and
before they leave they’ll tell me they’re
my long-lost sister.
I drag my feet walking to the bathroom
to check my makeup.
My makeup seems to be as tired as I am,
Leaking colors down to my eye bags.
I don’t have my makeup with me
which leaves me to have glitter
staining my face in places I didn’t apply it.
It’s 8:00 p.m. now.
I take care of one more customer
before my side work awaits me.
This man just standing there makes
me angry that he wants to eat our nasty pizza.
I give him his food and tell him to have a lovely evening.
Before leaving he says, “Just for how
beautiful your eyes look, here.”
And leaves a $10 tip behind.
Of course my coworkers cheer me on for our tip,
but it makes me feel sorrowful
that my makeup is the only thing these
people find beautiful about me.
It’s 9:30 p.m. when my father finally gets
back from his last delivery.
He tells me it’ll be another five minutes
as he goes to smoke one last cigarette
before we leave.
I groan as my back aches.
We get home and I swipe a makeup
wipe across my face.
It takes off the beauty everyone so loves.
I sleep knowing glittery eye shadow
is what my life has come to rely on.
Of course I’m only fifteen.
You’re probably thinking “god this
poem just drags on and you’re overexaggerating.”
But I definitely am not.
Fifteen-year-olds only have to think about
the small things that matter
until working has made you realize
life is just an exaggeration of a wonderful
thing and the person you could be if you tried.
But I’m tired of trying.
I’ll stick to a simple job and blue eyeliner.
Because those small things matter.

from 2022 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Alisha N. Wright: “I like writing poetry because it’s a way to show what I’m feeling or what I’m thinking.”

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