Susan Mahan


Each year in October,
the circus arrives in downtown Boston.

In the high-rise building next door,
Federal workers
(and I am one of them)
flock to the windows to see
the elephants on the sidewalk,
plodding in step trunk to tail
or lining up for water
before the start
of the three-ring shows.

Each year in October,
Federal workers march to the beat
of a new fiscal year
or to the tune
of a new administration.
They hope for a four percent raise.
They insert new regulations
in three-ring binders.

What separates them from each other
is the thinnest pane of glass.

Susan Mahan worked for the USDA Food & Nutrition Service from 1990 to 2007. She began writing poetry when her husband died in 1997. She is the author of four self-published chapbooks, World View (2009), Missing Mum (2005), In The Wilderness of Grief (2002), and Paris Awaits (2001) . She joined the editorial staff of The South Boston Literary Gazette in 2002.