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The secretary chant

My hips are a desk.
From my ears hang
chains of paper clips.
Rubber bands form my hair.
My breasts are wells of mimeograph ink.
My feet bear casters.
Buzz. Click.
My head
is a badly organized file.
My head is a switchboard
where crossed lines crackle.
My head is a wastebasket
of worn ideas.
Press my fingers
and in my eyes appear
credit and debit.
Zing. Tinkle.
My navel is a reject button.
From my mouth issue canceled reams.
Swollen, heavy, rectangular
I am about to be delivered
of a baby
xerox machine.
File me under W
because I wonce
a woman.

—Marge Piercy

“The secretary chant” from CIRCLES ON THE WATER by Marge Piercy, copyright © 1982 by Middlemarsh, Inc.

Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

All rights reserved.


Poetry 180

About the Poet

Marge Piercy (1936- ) is the author of 19 poetry collections, including Made in Detroit (2015). Educated at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University, she is active in antiwar, feminist, and environmental causes.

Learn more about Marge Piercy at The Poetry Foundation.