Sick Day

Three days, is what the HR rep said, somewhat sheepishly,

Fully aware that boxing up one’s grief in a span of a few dozen hours

Is a matter of wishful thinking at a time when both are in short supply,

And certainly she sympathizes (indeed, as she speaks,

She spreads her hands in such a way

As you half expect doves to come forth

In full flight) empathy being their stock in trade,

But the law and the handbook say three days,

At which time you need to have your head screwed back on and looking forward.

 

Eventually, the mail brings fewer envelopes

Adorned with embossed flowers and subdued and tasteful stamps,

And the usual flow of solicitous inquiries, pre-stamped and pre-sorted,

Inquiring as to your credit needs, your concern for orphans and old-growth forests

And the condition of your windows and siding, resumes apace;

More than once, in a fit of inappropriate black humor and frustration,

You scribble, in bold thick strokes of a marker,

The addressee no longer resides at this location.

 

You return to nine-to-five—but your ghosts keep their own hours,

Stopping by to visit as their own schedule alone sees fit,

Prompted by the tiniest of things: the dog scampering to its feet in a rush,

As if someone was at the front door,

The discovery of a long-unused pitching wedge in the back of the closet,

A song from long ago that a favorite tune

When you lived in the pairing mandated by Noah,

Before you entered the shadowy world of ones and nones.

Sometimes you give into a giddy, inexplicable madness,

And rise to waltz around the room, careening about clumsily,

As you have yet to master the difference in weight shift and distribution

Which is required of a solo act.

The timing of these visitations serves to disrupt your schedule and sleep patterns,

And you think that perhaps tomorrow you’ll call in.

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10 thoughts on “Sick Day

  1. Hi,
    Have you ever submitted your poetry for publication?
    This one, so timely (and untimely if you are the one in the hunt)should be in the New Yorker. They have a place on their website to submit poetry.

    I really like the line about the ghosts.

  2. I have had poems published in one or two places, all in small publications in Western New York–nowhere near where I live, and yet I am huge in Genesee County.

  3. This speaks to me of a loss of understanding of what is important. A societal comment that has depth and span…the perfect mix when it comes to making a smart and articulate point. There is so much span these days, but without the depth….its nothing but fluff. You on the other hand create a seen played out in spades across america that plays to an important rift that we all have to deal with all the while putting a more than human face to it and bringing it straight home to the heart. Wonderful writing.

  4. Much food for thought in your words… I particularly liked “… you have yet to master the difference in weight shift and distribution which is required of a solo act… “

  5. Never have I read a better-written poem on this topic. In fact, this is one of the best pieces of writing in any genre I have read in a very long time. You took me there and took me in. I felt. BIG. Your diction, pacing and line breaks all effectively add to the ambience and emotion of the piece.

  6. This is written with such rich empathy for loss and living on alone. These lines say so much, they hurt in the deep down places:

    but your ghosts keep their own hours,
    Stopping by to visit as their own schedule alone sees fit,
    Prompted by the tiniest of things…

    That’s the set-up for every reader to remember their own ghosts, either living or dead.

  7. The line about the hands and the doves was such an excellent image. As a mail lady, I found the section about mail quite familiar, but from the other side of the mailbox.

  8. Wow, I love this:
    “You return to nine-to-five—but your ghosts keep their own hours”

    And these:
    “As you have yet to master the difference in weight shift and distribution”
    “And you think that perhaps tomorrow you’ll call in.”

  9. oh, this one. wow, this is just so powerful in demonstrating the irregular other-worldness of being expected to go on just like normal. truly fantastic writing.

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