Today's poem is by Cathryn Essinger

Outside Consultant

He walks in, sits down, tucks his tail fin
around the pedestal of the chair. We try
to accommodate him, upping the humidity,
bringing in paper cups of water
from the cooler, but obviously
this isn't going to work.
                                        "Outside consultant,"
the staff whispers behind the office door,
and it's true. He looks out of place,
despite the Gucci watch, the red Versace tie.
Sure, he's an expert on everything aquatic—
the way water mimics the rhythm of the earth,
the eddies that touch our heart, the soft
nurturing muck that sucks us in, but
this is Chicago for God's sake.
                                        I try to explain
that all of us at Glacier Products are
very concerned about the environment
but I can't look him in the eye,
and Leonard, that jerk, is making fish-lips
at me from across the room.
                                        We promise
to get our people together, and I walk him
to the Red Line, tucking a bottle of Dasani
under his arm. On my way home, I begin
to wonder how he is going to get back
to the lake, so instead of merging onto
the Eisenhower I drive as close as I can
to the shoreline. Traffic is pretty heavy
this time of day, but I swear I see
                                        a silver flash
as the train nears the water, and tonight
when I am peeling vegetables for supper,
I imagine him heading north, his muscular
torso bucking the waves, those wide fish eyes
shining in the muddy water, and I'm wondering
if we couldn't have worked something out.

Copyright © 2009 Cathryn Essinger All rights reserved
from What I Know of Innocence
Main Street Rag Publishing Company
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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