dara's Reviews > A Working Girl Can't Win

A Working Girl Can't Win by Deborah Garrison
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Oct 09, 08

bookshelves: poetry, ribs
Read in October, 2007, read count: 1

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Quotes dara Liked

“Lately I can't help wanting us
to be like other people.
For example, if I were a smoker,

you'd lift a match to the cigarette
just as I put it between my lips.
It's never been like that

between us: none of that
easy chemistry, no quick, half automatic
flares. Everything between us

had to be learned.
Saturday finds me brooding
behind my book, all my fantasies

of seduction run up
against the rocks.
Tell me again

why you don't like
sex in the afternoon?
No, don't tell me--

I'll never understand you
never understand us, America's strangest
loving couple: they never

drink a bottle of wine together
and rarely look at each other.
Into each other's eyes, I mean.”
Deborah Garrison, A Working Girl Can't Win

“It was not like everyone had said.
Not like being needed,
or needing; not desperate;
it did not whisper
that I'd come to harm. I didn't lose

my head. No, I was not
going to leap from a great
height and flap
my wings.
It was in fact

the opposite of flying:
it contained the wish
to be toppled, to be on the floor,
the ground, anywhere I might
lie down. . . .

On my back, and you on me.”
Deborah Garrison, A Working Girl Can't Win
tags: poetry

“Used to be he
was my heart's desire.
His forthright gaze,
his expert hands:

I'd lie on the couch with my eyes
closed just thinking about it.
Never about the fact
that everything changes,

that even this,
my best passion,
would not be immune.
No, I would bask on in an

eternal daydream of the hands
finding me, the gaze like a winding
stair coaxing me down. . . .
Until I caught a glimpse

of something in the mirror:
silly girl in her lingerie,
dancing with the furniture--
a hot little bundle, flush with

cliches. Into that pair
of too-bright eyes I looked
and saw myself. And something else:
he would never look that way.”
Deborah Garrison, A Working Girl Can't Win

“For you she learned to wear a short black slip
and red lipstick,
how to order a glass of red wine
and finish it. She learned to reach out
as if to touch your arm and then not
touch it, changing the subject.
Didn't you think, she'd begin, or
Weren't you sorry. . . .

To call your best friends
by their schoolboy names
and give them kisses good-bye,
to look away when they say
Your wife! So your confidence grows.
She doesn't ask what you want
because she knows.

Isn't that what you think?

When actually she was only waiting
to be told Take off your dress---
to be stunned, and then do this,
never rehearsed, but perfectly obvious:
in one motion up, over, and gone,
the X of her arms crossing and uncrossing,
her face flashing away from you in the fabric
so that you couldn't say if she was
appearing or disappearing.”
Deborah Garrison, A Working Girl Can't Win

Father, R.I.P., Sums Me Up at Twenty-Three

She has no head for politics,
craves good jewelry, trusts too readily,

marries too early. Then
one by one she sends away her friends

and stands apart, smug sapphire,
her answer to everything a slender

zero, a silent shrug--and every day
still hears me say she'll never be pretty.

Instead she reads novels, instead her belt
matches her shoes. She is master

of the condolence letter, and knows
how to please a man with her mouth:

Good. Nose too large, eyes too closely set,
hair not glorious blonde, not her mother's red,

nor the glossy black her younger sister has,
the little raven I loved best.”
Deborah Garrison, A Working Girl Can't Win


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