Work Poem.

The linoleum floors in the break room ice my aching calves,
unmopped and sticky,
still the only relief from the humidity of Floridian weather.

Twenty-six thin blurring faces,
brushing shoulders at our incremental heights,
all in the same grey t-shirt and gym shorts that graze our knees,
marked with white barcodes plastered across the front.
We believe we are special as we march in
every morning, recaptured in a dream-
every evening, abandoned by our fans.

We scramble like ants around each other,
Tossing socks, switching spots, kicking off shoes,
Winnie the Pooh motioning to be let out,
Tigger bouncing at my head,
Eeyore tripping,
velcro ripping,
zippers coming undone at the seams
Mouths filled and dripping
with swear words whispered when the
shift manager steps out for a smoke.

I pull my costume cushions on,
fleshy pillows
wet with the sweat from the last set before parade.
My senses saturated in my childhood,
colorful
eager
continually disappointed in the people around me
as the shift manager politely reminds me
I’m only here because my waist is small and my
shoulders wide enough to work with.

Oven-like heat leaks in from the door crack and
sweeps over me, heavy,
carrying me out from the Boat Dock break room and
on stage to
make magical memories at
the happiest place on earth.

I hold my character’s head on my hip like a helmet,
and acknowledge that sometimes it just isn’t enough
to put on a happy face.