Almost every layoff I’ve seen involves some sort of grieving — for the job itself, for who we think we are in business and maybe for a faith that hard work will pay off in the end. But the image I remember at the time is a dandelion in full bloom given a hard shake — with all the seeds floating away on the wind. We all ended up in better pastures, eventually.
Working in a troubled office, you develop
a fine ear for door slams, like the managerial
“Now see here!” — righteous and swift.
But you also distinguish the other kind,
still forceful but touched with a miserable hint
of reluctance that says, “I truly hate
to do this, but I’m your boss.”
Sitting at my desk, heart pounding,
almost in tears, I listen to our supervisor
talking rapidly next door. I put my ear to the wall,
and I hear Pat say, “Well, I figured …”
Full moon, October. I lie awake
half dreaming, drifting, and I see myself
making the rounds at the office, saying
goodbye, hugging each person in turn.
“You’ve done a good job. Be proud.”
Then immediately another image:
I’m sitting tailor fashion on my desk,
literally in burlap and ashes, head lowered,
my collar open, cool air on my neck.
A broad ax rises. I lower my head some more,
and the ax slices easily through my neck.
I feel my head tip forward
and fall, blood washing my chest,
soaking my shirt.
Startled, I lie in the dark. I’ve seen,
I think, what I needed to see:
that I’ll never work again for anyone else,
not with my heart, not with faith,
and I close my eyes, falling asleep
and sleep like the dead until morning.