The demise of Mr. Wise came as no surprise
to the clerks in his department,
those weathered women who for years
had borne his scorn so well.
The story goes that Mr. Wise that day,
balancing his tray at lunch,
stepped lightly past
the puddings, pies and cakes
and pitched across his broth.
Two feet from the register, he dropped,
a humpback suddenly ashore.
Behind him in the line was Mrs. Burke,
who saw her boss’s water break.
She knew right then
there was nothing she could do.
After all, as everyone could see,
an earthquake in the chest
had taken Mr. Wise.
And that is why she raised
both arms and cried,
“Forget the CPR! Someone
call a priest!” No other sound
was heard that afternoon.
Not one boo-hoo.
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