March 27, 2023

Ubi Sunt

They are all gone into the world of light! 
–Henry Vaughan

Where are they now, the clerks gone postal,
The grumblers, the low-paid ones? Gone.
But gone too are the boys of little merit
From the Ivy League or Stanford, 
Gone, though favored long ago,
More than all the rest. Curmudgeons, quiet ones,
Office managers. Where have they gone,
The stragglers and the mentors who brought
The hardest ones along? We meet for moments
In the kitchen to watch the java drip,
Mesmerized, wary of each other, afraid 
Of wasting time and the company’s
Free coffee. One woman has a baby,
Tells of his enlarged heart, how she hasn’t slept.
She isn’t liked, talks behind backs, is suspected
Of uselessness. But now she talks to me.
One man stays late, scanning someone’s files
For the smallest scraps of sex. Others simply go,
The good ones who care, and the young ones who cry
At their first dismissals, the techies said to leave 
By choice, but more likely hiding failure.
They are gone and we are holding on.  
Ubi sunt. Where have they gone, 
The old executives? How many were sleeping
Undetected, dead for all we know?
Where have they gone, and where are the pretty protégés
Who sustained their dreams? Some busy with families,
Others with regret, having gone the safe route,
Holding on for dear life to their jobs? Oh, they fade,
They all fade from these aisles of glass dividers.
They are all gone into a world of light.