Posted in Unexpected


An unscheduled visitor at an unexpectedly quiet time
a woman seeking work
I take some details.
Several weeks later a vacancy arises
convenience remembers her
can bypass advertisement, application and interview
a phone call and meeting
one concern
she seems above this type of work.

Her story told without emotion is moving. Not uncommon.
A teacher who has never taught
married at 21, four children quickly followed.
Her husband shoulder tapped : The United Nations.
Overseas postings. An enviable lifestyle and interesting life
the world’s capitals and some of its trouble spots.
After two decades a return to the country of their birth.
Now in her late 40’s she has been traded
for a younger, slimmer, blonder model.

A good settlement, a house, a car and lump sum
but still a need to buy groceries and pay the utilities.
She holds my eye
I would be very grateful she says.

It works out well. Competent, hard-working and surprisingly strong
alienated by co-workers by her former status
she sometimes asks questions which are not
but hopeful hooks to land the catch of conversation.
After the divorce he was still a person of influence
she no longer.
Abandoned and lonely
questions detour around solitary confinement.

One summer my loved one has winter Christmas in her homeland
in a workplace where lives are watched carnivorously
everybody knows.
The former special assistant’s wife attempting to build dialogue
from circumstances
from commonalty
from no longer being the only one
notes we are both single
perhaps we could go to a movie,
then stammers backwards into silence at her unintended forwardness

An awkward pause
which I fill with “ or something. ”
Her eyes slide to intense study of the floor
her head hangs – hands twist in supplication.
Or something she says in a small voice.

Awful awareness understands loneliness as never before
so lonely she would sleep with me
not for advancement
not for money
not for gratification. For company.

We both experience sudden shock
at the comprehension of the possible impermissible.
For the rest of the time in the same workplace
we maintained rigid separation.



Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.