These Walls

I’m sitting in a closed room.
My boss. Her boss.
And the nice lady from HR
who’s there to be sure
the company is not

And the truth is in here too.
A year after cancer
I cannot do the work

I tried.

Everyone is surprised.
Everyone is angry.
Everyone is polite.
Me the most.

They want me to be killer.
Like these women.
I’ve already had a killer
and that part of me is gone.

It’s as if I awoke after surgery
a different person.
Details? Amnesia.
Ambition? Switched off.
Capacity? Amputated.

I no longer want to compete for my job
for whose PowerPoint is more powerful
for which contract is bigger
for who tells the best the story of
how we convinced clients with
contracts that care for no one
for millions of dollars
and months of nothing.
Only show.

These walls speak:
I am useless to them now.

I hear
what takes you so long?
and I hang my head inside.

I hear
performance plan
and I fear for my family.

I hear
you can’t ask for a severance package
and I start counting days
and the ways I am already cut.

I know
legions have been though this gate.
and it’s a matter of time
and choosing to venture
beyond surrender and
way, way past
letting go.

So I give myself into
the river sweeping me away,
shifting me
swiftly down stream
to some future
I cannot see.

Beyond these walls,
I will surely
come into a wide open ocean.
I will surely
swim into the shallows again.
I will surely
wash ashore on fine silken sands.

Philip Brautigam
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