A day like the others

The car pulls out onto a dark road as the first illumination crosses the horizon,
Even in snow.
Then come a ride under the city with a strap to keep the commuting hordes from colliding,
An exit, not to the sleek steel towers with leather-upholstered views of the harbor,
But to a silent iron door next to where the dumpsters sit,
Neighbor to an autobody shop, a tattoo peddlar, and a establishment that suspiciously hosts furtive visitors early and late in the day.

Inside, the layout gerrymandered by into labyrinths by funding models penciled in years before the present staff were hired
Confuses the visitors who teeter through the partitions.
The facility forms a negation of space,
Not open or free,
But bereft of shelter through walls shorter than an adult.

In a place that might be a corridor or might be an office,
Old problems pour from new faces,
The son who will not stay safely in the apartment on a restless night,
The missing payment for a service rendered to a shadowy operation,
The mysterious summons in text not recognized as language anywhere on Earth.
Perhaps they heard it all from their parents,
Sitting on laps in these spaces three decades before.

Some clients welcome the chance to sit for a moment,
With a ceiling between themselves and the vindictive heavens,
A wall between the North wind and their threadbare presence.

Other clients have managed to find a tenement box,
A roof, walls, a floor—six planes to structure a whirlwind world,
But their minds do not respect walls,
Their noons do not correspond to the sun overhead,
Any more than their children’s homework fits a school’s schedule.

What do they leave with?
A cellophaned mint in clasped purse,
A twist in their lives patiently straightened out by a gentle hand,
A needling oppression lifted for a week or a month—
Trophies awarded at the end of the day.

At least it eventually becomes quiet in the office,
For two hours of computer work,
A rueful laugh at team meating over the day’s behaviors,
Before the walk to the subway.

Andy Oram
March 2, 2018

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