Staff Christmas lunch
Celebration by decree, sign
here to bring desert, main dish,
or rolls and pickles.
Conscience puts you down
for spinach dip or salad plate,
though really you’d prefer
to bring the pop – a quick skate
through the convenience store
on your way in to work.
The conference table set
with plastic forks and margarine
in tubs. Combinations get
quirky. Chili and tuna casserole
swim together on your plate
There’s always a surfeit
of the ordinary – cold
cuts, potato chips and bowls
of onion dip. And one
favourite dish that goes too soon
for everyone to get a share.
Even in the forced democracy
of holiday, we hone distinctions.
The manager assists with screwing lids
back onto pickle jars, but
gets called off to the telephone.
It’s the secretary who excels
at inventing decorations.
It’s the receptionist who wears
the Santa hat and bells
and gets the job of throwing out
the mess. Pointsettia-printed napkins.
Plastic plates and cutlery.
There’s an awful lot of waste at the end.
* * *
Alice Major was the City of Edmonton’s first poet laureate. Her ninth book, Memory’s Daughter, is currently shortlisted for the Alberta Readers Choice award.