Jessie Carty, “Maid”

Jessie Carty

You had never touched a condom
until you spent a summer cleaning
rental cottages at the beach. 16,

but you didn’t drive. The management
company brought van loads of girls –
always maids never the male equivalent

(janitor, butler, run of the mill cleaner?).
Girls from nearby small towns
where the adults had all of the fast food

and retail jobs which left the teenagers,
for three seasons, cruising the one
four lane road or hanging out

at the mall until summer when they napped
on morning drives to the coast
where they’d vacuum, dust, take note

of any damage because the owners
needed to be properly reimbursed
and – of course – so you wouldn’t

be blamed even if, maybe, you did
block up the toilet because you didn’t
want to put the yellowish not-a-balloon

in the garbage. Why did all the boys
get to deliver pizzas instead of –
this? You’d seen condoms in health class

but you’d let your perky class partner
roll the “thing” down the cucumber. You
tried to avoid turning the same shade

of faded green that the vegetable
showed through the sheath. The smell
in class too much like the scent

of the yellow kitchen gloves you wear
to scrub, to hide that you don’t fill out
the finger parts, to disguise your still unlined palm.

Author’s Comment: “Maid” came about as I started working on a series of poems titled “Jobs You’ve Never Had” and during a free-write I decided to reflect on all the girls I knew who went to the beach to work during the summer as maids. The poem took off on its own into unexpected areas as poems tend to love to do.

Bio: Jessie Carty’s writing has appeared in publications such as, MARGIE, decomP and Connotation Press. She is the author of five poetry collections which include Fat Girl (Sibling Rivalry, 2011) as well as the award winning full length poetry collection,Paper House (Folded Word 2010). Jessie teaches at RCCC in Concord, NC. She is also the managing editor of Referential Magazine. She can be found around the web, especially at

6 thoughts on “Jessie Carty, “Maid”

    • Thanks, Nancy! I’m having fun working on it – but I’m a bit stalled right now with jobs I should write about 🙂 I’m taking suggestions!

  1. Just sounds so REAL!! It’s such a good story of life at 16 for girls and the boys getting to deliver pizzas. Interesting/sad simultaneous. Enjoyed your poem. Thank you, Jessie.

    • That’s a HUGE compliment since I never did the job myself although I did think of those girls the one time I rented a beach house 🙂

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