Lost and searching

Who are these driven people
Born to be musicians or astronauts
I do not know how to live my passion
But my bitterness grows daily for
My cubicle walls, my inbox full of
Urgent messages

If love is really all you need
What to do in the absence of love
Create meaning in meaningless tasks
Pursue moments of pleasure
Watch life in a mirror
Rather than live it

Could I work part-time in the
Bookstore down the street
Help customers find a favorite story
If you like O’Brien, try Cornwall
But people don’t read novels
Bookstores are for DVDs and coffee

Maybe my job is in the library
Endless shelves of heaven
Let me walk you to that Mozart bio
Just an excuse to smell the musty spines
But libraries are for free internet
And tax forms and a guy named Dewey

Perhaps an expensive art gallery
Where no one buys the paintings
I could sit on a stool and read
Posed elegantly beneath a prairie oil
How evocative of Sandburg, visitors
Would say, as I ignore them

Instead, I sneak into the office late
Walk the long way round
Stare at my screen waiting, soon
Coffee will reach the little gray cells
Where is Hercule to solve my case
Unhappy Writer Trapped in Cubicle

Three generations past
I would have made sandwiches for
Farmers on auction day
Listening to the rumble of cattle trucks
Up and down the gravel lane and
Clacking hooves in chutes

Or I would have kept the books
Recorded sales, collected receipts –
Going once, going twice, sold –
Ringing across the sale barn bleachers
Into the office of Vade and Orlo:
Wehmeyer Brothers Auctioneers

I might have married a farmer’s son
Skin brown from the fields
A boy who knew the difference
Between Holsteins and Jerseys
But for whom the spine of a book
Was awkward and strange

I would have stood at the kitchen
Sink and stared out the small window
Through the wall of pine trees
Stalks of corn glimpsed between
Their stern, swaying trunks
Wondering why I was so unhappy

Lost and searching for a life
I could not imagine then or now
As I stare out my high rise window
At the frozen lake and wonder
How my life got lost among
Stacks of books I never have
Time to read

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