Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Reply All

Some of us knowingly snickered
when we saw the email titled “Dress Code” in our inboxes.
One of those “friendly reminders” that Yasmin often sent,
not singling anyone out, but you knew there was but one offender.
“Please no tank tops, flip flops, leggings, or torn jeans,” 
she demanded—gently, no admonitions or threats.
Wendy certainly meant to send her snarky reply to Nancy or Scott,
maybe even Elaine in Marketing.
But instead, she tragically selected “Reply All”
and wrote, “This is what that cow, Jessica,
is wearing Right. Now. She hasn’t worn real pants in six months.
Her shirts never even cover her ass!
Must be nice to be a VP’s niece.”
This was followed by a number of laughing and vomiting emojis.
The normal buzz of the office slowly died,
as everyone, office-wide, read this electronic missive.
A sickly silence, punctuated by some shocked murmurs
and wide-eyed whispers hidden behind hands.
And Wendy, when she realized what she had done,
was so distraught that her body temperature rose uncontrollably,
causing her to flush and sweat.
Dizzy with embarrassment and fever,
she whimpered, “I don’t feel so well,”
then literally melted into a puddle of liquid flesh, blood and viscera
right at her desk, a cloud of steam rising above what had been our coworker.
There were screams and gasps, and someone set off the fire alarm.
We stood outside our building, shedding tears and exchanging hugs.
Steve made sure to get a good look at her remains
and had a small audience gathered around him,
describing what was left of her shoes, her hair.
Jess walked right past us to her car,
drove away and never returned.
Wendy’s whole workstation had to be replaced,
and only the most temporary of interns were assigned that space.
Several days later, we received an email from Yasmin,
entitled, “Wendy Yates Memorial Details and New Email Policy.”


I’ve been falling in my dreams lately.
I don’t know what the context is.
I’m just plummeting, the world a blur,
my stomach somewhere in my throat.
Nothing to grab at to slow my descent.
And I really feel it,
I really feel myself falling,
so I call out in a panic,
And my husband gets annoyed,
because I’ve just woken him up
and terrified him with my cries,
but I’m actually fine,
just lying there on my back.
And when I am about to crash land,
my eyes flutter open,
but I don’t feel safe,
not for the rest of the day.

My Favorite Sweater

I’ve probably had it about twenty years now,
my favorite sweater.
It is the color of cinnamon, chili powder,
tart cherries, the leaves of the Japanese maple.
It’s thick and warm and protects me well from the slicing wind.
But it’s a zip-up hoodie,
so it also can be easily removed
when the afternoon sun streams in 
hot and bright through the window,
and my back starts to sweat.
My first dog, Cleo, chewed up the bottoms of the pockets,
after I had accidentally left dog treats there.
So I can’t carry anything in my favorite sweater,
and I travel light.