The Last Secretary

This morning, in the ladies room mirror,
She realizes her blouse is message-pad pink.

Her whole torso contains choices waiting
To be checked off and dispensed with down the hall …

While you were out, sickened by the foul air,
What happened? Three calls, four faxes, then

The computer chimes its happy middle C—
New mail. Another and another chain letter.

“Forward this message ten times to find lost loves,
Twenty, and golden fortune will fly into your lap.”

Bad luck befalls those who do not participate.
Remember the legendary examples who declined,

Deleted their letters, then died within weeks—
Miss X from Texas, blackened in a fiery wreck;

Janine H, the beautiful, Midwestern receptionist,
Drowned on her honeymoon by a mad gondolier.

Who needs uninvited foreboding stapled to the day,
The dread of going home to what was your home,

When instead, by playing along, the power
Of the unsent might retreat at least until noon.

Downstairs, women leave, wrapped in long winter coats.
My dear, what did happen while you were out?

Lunch is crackers, a freeze-dried cup of soup.
The peas and carrots bloom in the boiling water.