Carol J. Jennings

Office Suicide

So unlike you to leave early,
unfinished work a trail across the desk,
glasses perched on top hiding your intent
not to return.

Next morning, your computer blinks
the arrival of messages of no consequence
now that you’ve shot yourself in the head.

Your note at home was so like you –
explained nothing but site:
……. I’m under the deck,
……don’t look, call for help.

Weeks pass, we still linger
outside your open door —
as though you’re connected
to this place, might suddenly appear,
demand to know what we are doing.

Our funereal tones of those first days
when death was fresh –
an avalanche, a tidal wave –
metamorphosed into chips
of obsidian humor: Well at least
he didn’t do it at work.

Do you suicides congregate
in some otherworldly space,
chat about pros and cons —
oven, river, gun, pills, knife,
a leap, a rope, asphyxiation?
You would have weighed options.

I’ve adopted your philodendron,
twisted and overgrown,
pruned its stalk.
You called it a phoenix, invulnerable –
unlike you.

Carol J. Jennings was a lawyer for an independent federal agency from 1977 through 2011. Her poems have appeared in The New York Quarterly, Potomac Review, Oberon, Amelia, Chautauqua, and an anthology Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse.