Cornerstones

by Julie Benesh

Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanity- Sigmund Freud

 

Boys only want one thing, said Mom, with the killer breasts

that eventually killed her. (They couldn’t help it; she didn’t blame

them, the boys or the breasts.) Crushes will crush you: you will get pregnant,

drop out of school, be a single mother. (She dropped out but only to get married;

I didn’t come along for years.)

 

I told Dad that when I grew up I’d have a job I liked and he said jobs

were what someone would pay me for, and what anyone liked was called a hobby.

Outlast the bad bosses and I’d be fine. He called me a Jill of all trades

and mistress of none; said if he messed up at work, airplanes

could fall from the sky; who could possibly like that?

 

She wanted me to be a boss, and mistress of myself. He wanted me to join the army

and study technology, not throw away my education studying the ever-lovin’ humanities.

 

A half century later they are both not not right:

it’s an everyday miracle that anyone is born,

falls in love, or enjoys their career; that planes

stay in the sky, or that breasts remain attached.

About the Author

Julie Benesh has published stories, poems, and essays in Tin House, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Hobart, Cleaver and many other places. She is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Writing and the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Grant. Read more at juliebenesh.com.