[author’s note: i’m a little surprised at how much i enjoyed writing this one. it was a strangely satisfying experience. i wrote it for a competition-based poetry event i participated in, and about which i was kinda unenthusiastic because competition isn’t my thing. this poem woke me up. AND i won my round with it! i performed a truncated version to keep my time under three minutes, but what follows is the complete piece. excited to share it here. comments always welcome!]
Diary of the Mid-Level Bureaucrat Who Could Fly
Monday. Listened to an inspirational podcast during commute. Traffic avg. How much coffee ISN’T too much coffee? And how much is actually enough? Discovered an entire Facebook page of Monday memes. Wonder if the creators of the work week curated our emotional responses to days.
Taco Tuesday, amirite? The assonance of that term kinda sounds like crunching actually makes you want tacos. I’ll text my wife on lunch. Realized while creating the 3rd backup for my report that I don’t look out windows while I’m here. Seeing the sky makes part of me want to laugh or sing or fly away. None of which are appropriate to do in the office. Sounding crazy. Must set Google Assistant reminder to ask my therapist about work-life balance. Whatever that is.
It’s Wednesday, my dudes. Sorry diary, that was cheesy. Speaking of: some big vendor brought nachos for lunch. Talked to us about brand-building and breathing exercises. How many people are actually breathing here? I almost asked during the Q&A. Amlodipine well tolerated. Blood pressure stable. Doctor said I should relax. Whatever that means. Wish I still had my guitar.
My son is sick today. With his grandma now, since neither of us could take off work. Video games and coddling. Lucky him. Lucky grandma. She probably knows what that kid likes these days. Who he is. I don’t think he even remembers me. So at least we have that in common.
TGIF and Pavlovian salivation. Or celebration. Or both. Everyone smiles on Friday and it’s so fake. Boss is jubilantly mini-golfing and micromanaging from his office. That man has called me the wrong name for eight years now. I once introduced myself as that wrong name at the office Christmas party.
Sex and sleep in Saturday. Minus the sex. I guess waking up at 8 counts as sleeping in. But not really since I woke up in a panic, thinking I was late for work. Wish I could play my guitar today. What haven’t I sold of myself to pay bills? Line revision: it’s protein bar and Vistaril Saturday now.
Sunday. I shook hands with a man at church whose smile was frozen to his face. He clutched me with cold fingers and dead eyes. Grinned like a scream would crawl from his mouth. I introduced myself to him by the wrong name. Feared for my life ‘til he released my hand. I think he might be my soulmate.
Monday again. Listened to silence during commute. Inspirational. Can’t tell if this
heavy breathing is mine, or echoes from the man at church. I could feel his smile in my throat all day, chewing me while I chewed my sandwich at lunch. “Chew” is a funny word. Can’t seem to stop laughing.
My son’s birthday is either today or three months from now. When I asked him about it, he just stared at me. I laughed. Everyday is somebody’s birthday, amirite? That’s a song I wish I could write. Currently playing hide and seek with the sky from my cubicle. I don’t think she can find me. If I win, I get to stay here under my desk for a while. If the sky wins, she gets to swallow me whole. Win-win.
This day has historical significance that I forget. Something went crashing on this day. Maybe everything. Hiding under my desk again. The sky was none the wiser, but my boss sent me home early. All the good lies start with M. Marriage. Money. Management. Multitasking. Mother. Wife looked at me so strangely tonight. She claims I kept chanting the word “fly” at the dinner table, but I’m not fooled. I know I have neither voice nor name.
Today Google Assistant reminded me to ask my therapist about work/life balance. Is Google Assistant crazy? Who the hell is Work Life Balance? The sky’s been looking at me all day. Asking me where my guitar is, and why I don’t sing anymore. Decided to sing my reports instead of writing them. Boss didn’t like that. Probably because I have no guitar.
Friday the 13th is perfect. I understand now that the man at church ate me up with his petrified grin, and I am partially digested. What is left of me, I’ll give to the hungry sky today. She deserves it. No more hiding. I’ll fly away before the boss can yell about appropriate office behavior. I make a run for the windows. Sky laughing. Me laughing. Everybody in the office calls to me, but they’re all shouting the wrong name. Funny. TGIF, guys! Eternity should be a nice long weekend.