We are not made for this work, you and I. We are not made to burn and dash hopes, but to create and raise it; we are made for solitude not conferences, for words of landscapes and vistas not checklists and formulas. And yet we are always there, the last to leave, ever conscientious at 2am, a beer and the drowned sound of TV. Just another line, one more response, one more time. Repeat. There is always another, this river never runs dry. It washes and knows nothing of the stone caught within its current.
We stand by the water cooler’s edge with a cup of coffee in our hands, we clasp it tight and hold it to our cheek with a momentarily closing of the eyes. They don’t see it but we do. We see the poetry in motion. In an office there is always drama between the blue-fabric seats, in an office human tragedy is currency: arguments over work and pay, the stress and storm of people as they fall and parade, some get sick, others jealous, this is life in Xeroxed synthesis.
We peer over our cup at the edges of papers overlapping like mass corpses, the photocopier churning in the centre is a stuttering heart; we look at the huddled masses, the sleepy, the seated and staring. We lose ourselves in this symphony of key presses, of dull feet on carpet, and laughter over last night’s drunken revelry. We listen and wonder. What should we say? That we got lost within the folds of a book? Or that we wrote a new story? After all, we have adventures to tell too don’t we?
And in the cars, the silence of long journeys to remote offices, fading away in the middle lane of the motorway, huddled with a face pressed against cold glass, against the oncoming winter. We talk of dreams and all the faces we have seen, of schemes and plans and what this may all mean—this life we’ve been cast into. He laughs, not knowing what to say. Did we see last night’s TV? he says. The way she got voted out was unbelievable. We don’t watch much TV. But we agree.
In the old days at least we’d enjoy a smoke or two in reflection. Windows wound down at 60 miles an hour, wind blowing ash and detritus over the dash; mouth inclined towards the window with cold wind ushering the comfort of grey-blue smoke into our lungs. We inhaled and waited for the momentary sway as the nicotine found its path towards the synapses; feeling forgiven by chemicals used to kill, now used only to dull life’s confusion. But we’ve given that up too because someone convinced it us it was good for health. But what use is health now? We write because somewhere in the mire-filled, dug-up trenches of our soul there may lie some gem of reason that will make living bearable for a while, something to ease the pain while we wait for the thresher.
We used to lean out of windows in the evenings and smoke with our elbows pressed against the aluminium frame. We watched the orange street lamps in the rain and all the life that phased in and out before us—the lovers and drunk teenagers raging in the dark spaces between the narrow glow.
We are exiles now, staring across a desert at ourselves wondering which of us is the mirage. We watch life, but we are not within life. The self does not exist in the way we would wish. Time has blown away meaning leaving only a faint impression in the sand like a serpent’s crawl. We don’t know who we are, only what we don’t know. This swarm like a biblical plague, this dawning of the end of days, we feel it inside. But outside life must begin again—the stage is dressed and bathed in cold morning light; we must step upon it soon, take to our car, board a train, catch a bus, sit at our desk, feed the churning heart, take our place as life lies wounded in the wings, and dream of senseless things.