While driving in, the sun rakes harsh and cold
across the yawning median, its surge
of unmowed grasses tall and gone to seed.
At seven thirty two, you park and watch
the business park retention basin fleck
the building's anchored masonry veneer—
its tilt-up spandrels bright as dry begasse,
abrasive-blasted precast concrete curtain walls
glass-fiber reinforced for tensile strength
—and tinted panes of not-quite mirrored glass
with noiseless, sharp undulatory light.
Still in the car, the windows down, you hear
the smoothing of an absent heron's wings,
the culverted and unnamed creeks;
Nothing is overgrown except behind
the split-rail fence and even measured ditch.
(The site-selection team concluded that—
few wetland fauna photographed,
the extant trails unplanned desire lines
—a horizontal build atop the creeks
cost less considering indemnity,
the zoning laws, land-use controls.)
Inside, they're unresponsive to, at first,
a contract worker, your retractable
ID: the color-coded keycard badge
on lanyards fiddled with like rosaries.
Not introduced, yet hers or his a face
or voice you recognize from storage rooms
of copy paper, weak black ballpoint pens,
inkjet and laser printer cartridges.
Within a week or so, they chat as if
you started yesterday about the vague
admonishment to clean the microwave:
a printed out and taped up clip-art sign.
You nod, grind teeth and wonder if they see
you're thinking of the parking lot, its tar
emulsion sealant; oil-based zone line paint;
the slipform curbs seem all a fire-lane red;
a heron tilts its head, the culvert's mouth
begins to gather mud in careful folds.
Reprinted from Kudzu Review 3.2 (2013).