“Government Work” by Stuart Redpath

Stuart Redpath


Later this afternoon, a small man will float face down
behind a desk in a flotilla of desks in a large yellow ocean
on one of many floors of a state government building.

He will have a grease spot on his starched shirt.
It will be the last remnant of his choice in the cafeteria
and he will regard it with considerable pleasure,

for it will contain more than a dribble of his personality,
and no cause for corrective action.
Today he will have
his work cut out for him. Pages and pages of flotsam

will wash into his baskets via the usual channels.
He will dredge through them, given time and the right tide.
For now, however, he will drum his fingers and listen to Rossini.

No one else, no one else, no one else will tell. No one else
will hear the music. He will soon be adrift, wondering if a lone man
falls in a forest, and what is the sound of one man dying.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003

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