Poem of the Month
Kate Bernadette Benedict
After Long Days Visiting the Nursing
Home, I Return to the Office
. . . to screen calls,
draft, deal, fax,
smile the robotic smile.
How well everyone seems,
walking unfalteringly on sound legs.
No one says fork when he means briefcase,
no one snores at the conference table
or slumps limply at her desk, dribbling.
Our chairs have wheels
but only so we can work faster,
swiveling deftly in the direction of vital purposes.
Odd, then, that breezing by a certain open door,
I catch sight of Manny, in his shirtsleeves,
motionless, emotionless, corpse-eyed,
no purpose in his eyes at all.
I hurry by
but sidewise I perceive his silhouette,
faint behind a scored glass wall.
His head is in his hands now,
his spine bows,
his weary posture an augury of times to come.
Originally published in Gin Bender Poetry Review, 2003, and in In Company, 2011