I came to his office in the morning, mottled plants breathing
stale sunlight, parched in the absence of dew.
He told me of his life and the travels he wished he’d taken,
crusty dreams now buried, justified beneath the job, the kids,
the wife I don’t wish to hear about.
We talked, or rather, I listened, and nodded, and quietly scrutinized
middle age and how it frightens people, makes them feel they must
prove their merit to the young. I vowed I would not place a value
on his head like a barcode containing all the necessary information
about the product.
The clock regarded us impatiently. I shuffled my belongings to announce
my departure, rose hesitant, and caught his gaze for a second too long.
We are always aging, always making mistakes. I ought to be a green fern
frying in the sun, so pleased with the warmth that I ignore the
way my fronds wither, the way my color seeps out of me and into the earth.