Caution, Like Anti-Wrinkle Creams, Must Be Applied Liberally

A poem from my last summer working in retail

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

I will readily admit that titles are not my strong suit, and this collection of poems I wrote after long shifts at TJ Maxx definitely falls victim to that weakness.

This is the second selection from the group of poems I wrote as a creative project in my last summer of working retail. If you want to hear more about why this non-poet spent a summer attempting the genre, check out this post first:


The weight of unbought clothes presses
Metallic teeth into the tops of my hands,
Leaves twin marks resembling a vampire bite.
But these will grant no immortality,
Endow instead a sense of monotony.
I’ve been here before; hangers dug into raw flesh —
Marked, semi-permanent, by a temporary occupation.

It’s said to know something well is to know it like the back
Of your hand. There I see the long thin scar,
Still pink, raised, robbing young skin of perfection
Long before it seemed to matter.
Before worries over scars and wrinkles set in
Over the dreams of a sixteen-year-old girl baking cookies
In an oven mitt that was just a little bit too short.

She doesn’t yet know that to simply be careful isn’t enough.
That caution, like anti wrinkle creams, must be applied liberally.
Like the dabs of moisturizer and sunscreen,
Like baths in coconut oil, said to fade stretch marks,
Trepidation feels a futile defense against the pressing
Continuance of time.

Thanks for reading, and happy National Poetry Month!

Pittsburgh-based writer & wearer of many metaphorical hats. Making words about self, health, books, travel, and more! She/her.

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