Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Poetry Tuesday: "Penelope in the Office Cubicle"

We are in that stage of the accreditation process when I wonder if we're changing documents back to what they were several revisions ago.  It is a time of endless binders and going back and forth to the printer and hoping that our decisions will make sense in a few weeks when the accreditation team comes for their on-site visit.

I realize that much of life proceeds this way:  we make decisions and revisit them, we rewrite the chunks we thought were finished, we wonder if anything will make a difference.  Last week I wrote to a friend, "Are we curing cancer? No. Are we making student lives better? Maybe in some round-about way, in that the school stays open and students get financial aid."

I tell myself that even cancer researchers have weeks and months of replicating work, migrating data across documents--and many cancer researchers will never discover anything that will vindicate the importance of their work.

Even in the monastery, I imagine, the work can seem repetitive and pointless.  No one is immune.

At least now I have gone through several rounds of past accreditation processes.  The first time was just overwhelming with all the work that needed to be done and redone and never made significantly better.  Now I know that we will do what we can do until the time comes for the visit. 

And eventually this time of endless binders will be over.  In the meantime, let me be grateful that I have a good team, that I am capable of this work, that I have the resources to do the work.

Although if anyone has an extra high-speed copy machine . . .

But because it's been too long since I posted a poem, let me return to one from an earlier accreditation visit, in 2010. 

It's part of my second chapbook, I Stand Here Shredding Documents.

Penelope in the Office Cubicle

She dismantles the chart she created
just last week, moving data
from one computer program
to another, to create
a chart that looks
just like the original.

She fixes coffee
only to be informed
that everyone now requires
decaf. She pours out pots
of coffee, staining the sink.

Part of her team rewrites
all the departmental objectives.
When the missing members return
from vacation and illness, the team changes
the objectives again. As she synthesizes
the various versions, she realizes
that they’ve written and revised
their way back to the original objectives.

Every day, she wakes up wondering
what work she’ll unweave today,
only to reweave tomorrow.
Every night, she dreams of voyages.

No comments: