We sit on our stained sofas at home
waiting with eyes glued to screens. For work.
You remember what work was – if you
ever find yourself saying kids these days, you can
string together figments of what work was,
though you may not be able to get it today.
This is about waiting, shifting from one cushion
to another, hearing the downpours surround
your tiny, shabby apartment, but holding off
on infiltrating. It already has you trapped,
too frightened to move a muscle lest it cost
more than what you’ve rationed this week.
You imagine your brother, working off
the coast of Brazil and enjoying every
cent of his engineer’s salary.
You imagine your sister, volunteering in
Haiti or Nicaragua to heal foreign children,
her practicing to become a doctor. Fortunate
that their passions and future fortunes align.
Your inbox dings at you with all the impatience
of a starving puppy – eating away at you until
you open it. The man who sent it took his
sweet waiting time in sending it, has said
No, we’re not hiring today, for any reason he wants.
Another follows, and then a third and fourth,
and you collect them all in a pail, let them mingle
with your almost-tears, save them for washing
down the hours of wasted waiting.
You love your brother, the man he helped you
to become when your father lacked understanding.
He’s at home now, trying to sleep off four weeks
of offshore weather, fifteen-foot waves,
and a twenty-something-hour flight home.
You love your sister, the woman she’s becoming,
so wise despite all her youth and blind faith
in humanity and divinity. She’s going to save some soul’s body
someday, and you’ll buy her a cheap bottle of port to celebrate.
How long has it been since you’ve told them you loved them,
hugged their shoulders, sang a stupid song in tandem,
and recanted the secret sibling rules once again?
You’ve never done something so worthy, so noble,
so useful in all your days – not because you’re too young
or too dumb, not because you’re jealous or even ill, no,
you’ve just been begging for any employment for so long
that desperation has taught you only waiting and suffering,
and you’ve now forgotten what work was.