We look vaguely embarrassed.
Everyone else was here hours ago
and they’ve already familiarised themselves
with the floor-calling voice in the elevator,
the inert plants in reception.
They know where the carpet has faded,
locations of water coolers and toilets.
They’ve made themselves at home.
They glance at us, and wait.

The lattes are really great here.
They do a wonderful lasagne.
We are shown the documentaries
on poverty and terrible wars,
the crimes of the rich and imperialists,
we hear odes to the dead,
the outpourings of grief, the hope voiced
that we will learn from experience.

It’s a thriving scene. Everywhere,
people are empowering themselves,
exploring their gender differences,
asserting their individuality,
throwing sick parties, and taking new drugs
that kill only a few of us:
trade creates wealth, technology
liberates and entertains the masses,
and for those who are exploited and miss out,
we have more documentaries:
we feel sorry, and plan to change things.

It isn’t all work, of course.
There are seahorses, the sunken oil tanker,
wings dipping through cirrus,
moments of transcendence and humiliation,
the time I gave you head on the train,
the time you gave me head in the snow
near the ski lodge:
there are the wild bears,
intimate moments together with our families.
The birth of children. The death of children.
The sunrise with Koreans.

We like the funny films we’re shown,
they keep us captivated.
The picture is unsteady,
the high definition pixellates,
but we laugh at the one with the poets
and the prime ministers, how carefully
they prepare their legacy for the void,
all the boxes with papers and notebooks,
the months they spend poring
over letters and diaries:
around them, the abyss is cool and regal,
the surface so smooth, like a mirror or lake,
how is it they never realise
until it’s too late?

The one with the police is funny, too,
how they run in and beat
their brothers and sisters with truncheons,
how they are paid and what they believe,
who pays them, and what they believe
and don’t believe, where they got the money,
how they hold on to what
they call power:
the stories are sometimes sad,
they have twists, and they’re ironic,
well, they have everything.

Are there enough metaphors?
Isn’t it all a little too literal,
the faces with the pins driven into them,
the dogs with their guts spilled out
being rewound, pulling their guts back in?
We agree, there could be more music,
and the music could be better,
even the good music is played at the wrong time,
we notice the moments aren’t perfect,
and though there are good moments,
there don’t seem to be enough of them.

Still, we make ourselves at home.
We settle into our routines.
The job isn’t great, very tiring,
and then there’s the travel,
but we get used to it.
There are benefits, and perks.
We get inspired for a while,
then grow disillusioned;
we are praised, then cast aside.
There is a kind of sunset in our affairs,
a calm hour when the birds fall quiet,
no longer wired to sing,
we dream our level of suffering may relent.
We know tomorrow will be the same.
We know tonight will be different.

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