Two Poems

Board Meeting

If we were hiking,
that steady wash 
of air conditioning
could be a waterfall.

That rustle of pages
scanned by twenty pairs
of editorial eyes
could be 
wind in the trees.

If we were hiking,
we could sit on a log,
not these Eames chairs.
These Styrofoam cups
of coffee would steam
like mist 
in the mountain air.


The Thief of Time

Here is the door, bare now,
to the office I’ve entered
to sit in this same chair

for thirty years— 
and here are the metal filing cabinets
where the words have piled up

(these were the paper years, carbon
and carbonless, dot-matrix,
Courier 10)—I’ve jimmied

the locks, pried open the drawers,
and, as the clamor began, decided,
like Solomon, my fate.

The piles stretch sixty feet
down the hall because I wanted
to keep it all,

every stapled, scissored draft, 
every word scratched and read,
thought, false start, letter

of reference, review, kind card,
and, in the bottom drawer,
every discouragement— 

out, out, to make room
for time. I shut the door, label

the stacks in the hall—
what I saved to remember,
what I saved to forget.

—Robin Chapman, Madison, WI