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At the Chemical Plant
Tamara Madison


Dad says he has a job for me,
drives me to school, my bike
in the back. In the afternoon
I ride through date groves
from Indio to Coachella.
In a small office in the corner
of the plant, my spot
is a desk where I type up orders
scrawled by salesmen
who can find surprising ways
to spell DeBonne and Vladimir.
It’s pleasant here; the grownups
crack jokes, play music,
when Dad is in the field.
When his pickup is spied
in the driveway, word goes out
and comes back in like a cold wind.
Backs straighten, conversation
freezes, souls shiver
as we get a read on his mood.
At quitting time we drive home,
Dad and I, a handful of words
between us, him singing along
to a country song, squinting
into the sun.

© by Tamara Madison.
Used with the author’s permission.

Tamara Madison is a swimmer, dog lover, grandmother, and retired teacher of English and French. She is a native of the California desert, and the author of two chapbooks of poetry and three full-length manuscripts--Morpheus Dips His Oar being the latest. Learn more about Tamara at



Post New Comment:
So Sweet...Simple and soulful.
Posted 10/24/2018 08:37 AM
Lori Levy:
I agree. Expressed in simple language, but says a lot.
Posted 10/22/2018 04:04 PM
wendy morton:
A good poem, so many levels of meaning.
Posted 10/22/2018 10:57 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I loved this well written nostalgia poem. The narrator's relationship and characterization of her father sounded like mine. My favorite lines were: word goes out like a cold wind and singing along to a country song, squinting in the sun.
Posted 10/22/2018 10:07 AM
michael escoubas:
My father had a business in our rural hometown. There were many burdens associated with it--your insights ring poignantly true. Excellent poem, Tamara!
Posted 10/22/2018 09:05 AM
When the cat's away, the mice will play.
Posted 10/22/2018 08:24 AM
Larry Schug:
A poetic lesson on the "real world" learned at an early age. A big story in few words. Nice!
Posted 10/22/2018 06:34 AM

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