Imaginative Inspiration: “Before Work”

The title alone has the potential to evoke a variety of sensations: the taste of waking up contained in a cup of coffee, the distinct interplay of fabrics across skin associated with putting on a uniform, or the image of an absurdly pink sunrise seeping through an office window. For Zoe Ritter, a 5th year student in Clark’s GIS program, “Before Work” is the creative retelling of an unusual dream. “I was walking across the train tracks to get to the bench on the other side where I could sit and wait for the train to work…However, the whole time during the dream I was dressed in work clothes, carrying a briefcase in one hand and my head in the other.”

The resulting poem skillfully captures the surrealism of the dream’s content while maintaining the feeling of normalcy she experienced. Read “Before Work” below.

Before Work

Zoe Ritter

My spine shattered sweetly
easy as a bird’s
head lobbing backwards
neck gracefully arched
vertebrae snapped
like a wishbone.

Head rolled under the bed
tongue lolling
snacking at the crumbs
in the carpet.

I pulled it out by the hair.
It didn’t even scream just
smacked its lips
demanded its hair be brushed.

Carried it gingerly at the hip
crossed the railroad tracks
with my briefcase and blazer.

Head in hand greeted people
waiting for the train.
No one seemed to mind
the extra look down.

Read the newspaper.
Head on my lap
laughed loud
rudely atop my knees.

Headlines are never funny
before the sun comes up.
Silent heads stared forward
at the backs of seats in front of them.

As the train moved
I held my head to the window
like a small dog.


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