Short enough to be interesting, long enough to cover the subject by Heather McHugh

Such were skirts in college. Or, at least, Picasso paintings. So I got a job.

The cubes were piled inside the cubicle, and cubicles composed

the office space. The structure had its hundred offices.


The orifices in their turns

were sundry and assorted,

many tiny. My own place


was by the book box. But the book box

was confusing. Empty, it had volume;

still a slender volume filled it


with das ungemesse. My talent was

for essences; my job was not of essence.

I was meant to weigh the syllables. How many


syllables in syllabus, what kind of Latin

doctors up a mind, so science could assess

the rarity, and rationeers could count the cost


and benefit. They ought

cost naught, I thought, given

the very burden of their heft, their surfeit


over heaven. Heaven had no words.

(But fucking O! It had a sword. Come not.)

I’ll never make the cut. The thought


of getting critical

immortality was more than a little

nauseating. Forget heroic hara kiri. All I wanted


was to handily resign my office. But, alas, it seemed

I’d oversigned. The ink was indistinguishable from

its premises and pretexts. What was that, desktop


or a door? The window or a wall?

The publishing or perishing?  Perhaps the whole

damn world was dark with one hand’s magic mark,


the limits of a liability. A circled article.

Was someone all this time

in error? Which damned way


was out? I danged it all, the danger

I could see ahead:  The boss in bed

with her minion, the mime


in the murderee’s mirror.