We have come together, the Board Chair begins,
for obvious reasons. In a time of great division, this table—
he raps his knuckles against the oak
for emphasis—is a metaphor. In another room,
in another country, the Lumberjack laughs tightly
through his teeth, pain scaling his spine,
sharp as the word a man deploys
to cleave the thick silence that follows
a lover’s quarrel. Nothing proliferates metaphor
like love. Nothing severs word from symbol like pain.
Like pain is a truncated simile; without tenor.
During the war, the Board Chair sings
of business as usual. Without which,
the Chair has no job. (Without business as usual
or without the war? Name the difference.) Unfortunately,
that’s not realistic, the Chair replies to a proposal
from a woman whose name he refuses
to pronounce. The Real endowed the Chair
with two houses and a boat, which his daughters borrow
on Sundays each August. The Chair says I hear you
three times and the woman’s speech is barricaded
behind his declaration. Now when she opens her mouth,
money flies out. The money is embossed
with the Dictator’s face. From a baroque frame
on the boardroom wall, the Dictator’s father
looks on sternly. His head hangs above the Board Chair.
Perhaps he misses his table. Perhaps this meeting
has always been my life, the Curator thinks, staring blankly
at the toddler whose face wallpapers his phone.
Every hour in this room, a brick
in the rampart against bright thought.
n rspns t th rcnt vnts tht rmnd s tht rcsm xsts n ll spcts
f prsnl nd prfssnl lf, the Stenographer records dutifully,
w wll mv t stblsh th Frdm Grnt. The Dictator
put his face on the language like he put his face
on the money. The Stenographer is struggling
to keep up. She was up late, irritated by heartbreak.
The common animal of her innards disgusts her.
The cold region of her childhood lives
in her vowels. She keeps her mouth shut.
The Board Chair is satisfied with what they’ve accomplished.