Office Hours
by Jessica L. Walsh

______Driving across the plains was like this: brain
______half-consumed with things undone at points
______of origin and destination, half-aware
______of music, clock, speed. Same, again and again.
______Once, though, after an animal-rights raid
______at a mink farm, the road was a slaughterhouse
______of liberation. I felt the soft bumps
______even before my mind registered smell, sound, sight.
______I hosed fur coats off the undercarriage
______at the world's largest truck stop, threw up into the soapy drain, filled
______my thermos with black coffee, and drove east—

I let my mind slumber through the day. Then one, suddenly shaking,
says, It's a tragedy all around. I wish I'd been listening.
I ask how she's coping with whatever it was she said
while I watch the clock and the doorway.
She sobs and tries to choke out a reply.
My inadequacy glares: I offer Kleenex, a brochure.
It’s a long day, so maybe coffee.

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