Client Office at Night, Edward Hopper, 1940
Categories Poems in the Time of Pandemic, Poetry
Location New Brighton, Minnesota
Date April 9, 2020
URL Launch Project

James C. Henderson

I woke this morning
thinking I was back at work
and talking to my boss.
It didn’t go well, as usual.
He’d just come back from a business trip
and when I asked him,
“Did you meet interesting people
and have significant conversations?”
he just stared at me with the eyes of the dead.
He wasn’t even my boss.
He was some actor I’d seen in a movie.
Antonio Banderas in that Jamie Foxx/Tom Cruise movie.
He was Mark Cuban, the billionaire.
He had a mole on his right cheek.
Finally, after staring at me for a while
he asked me how my week had been.
I couldn’t remember the names of any of the sales reps
I talked to every day or the companies I bought books from.
I knew I was going to be fired right then
but my boss smiled and said, “That’s how it goes.”
People come into our lives
we know them like our brother or our sister
and then they are gone from memory.
He didn’t really say this
but I felt this is what he meant
as he sat there, smiling
giving me room to fail
continuing to pay me
so I could go about my life
so I could feed my family
so I could have a home.
We, just two people who had never
met before, strangers, in this life together.