You pay in all your working life
till the day you comb your thinning hair
and head into the Claims Dept
birth certificate in hand
to retrieve your money, please.
They speak in loud voices
as if you are demented
they do not know how hard you worked
how weary you feel or understand
the labyrinth which brought you
face to face with this uncivil servant.
He asks if you have
committed heinous crimes
against your country,
you defend yourself
politely, as the only crime
you can recall is aging.
He tells you in a droning monotone
that you will get less money because you have
come too early, or arrived too late,
and very soon, when they run out
you will get nothing.
On the bus ride home,
you notice the strong putrid
smell of bureaucracy
being blown away
by gusts of exhaust you
no longer have to breathe
on someone else’s schedule.
© by Anita S. Pulier.
Used with the author’s permission.