Somewhat Forbidden Transitions. by Susan Plant

Cool blasts of slow fluorescence
Drop vague never-shifting shadows from
Filing cabinets desks computers—
Shadows like humid
Visibility, air
You can see, like refugee
Rain clouds inspissipated in this
Funereal, strangely
Unreal place—
And moving with members
Of the staff reveal
Visual transitions
Somewhat forbidden.
More light than heat.

This space is ghastly with fluorescence,
Office fluorescence, a hard light that
Spreads its sickly critique and
Seemingly sees me, hinting at
What I seemingly see
What my foolish ambiguous
Glances have never been
Able to accomplish, at a
Sight fantastic but not
Imagined. My senses
Are not fooled: glancing
Forbidden transitions
Flicker and incredible
I seem to see
Elephant bodies. Elemental.

A body is a singular pair of events:
My seeing its being but rules of the
Office no longer apply
When each member of the staff
Is riding—at a distance
Much below Planck's—in the
Belly of a grainy
Gray elephant, and though
Turned away, is waving at
Me with her aerial third
Hand like a tubular banner,
That handy nostril.
It touches me everywhere.
Elephants. What godly animals.

Midst these spontaneously exuded light-foaming
Extensions, these spongy extrusions, these
Ethereal extrapolations of sight
Whose fingerlike noses
Probe with curious
Creature insatiability the
Airways of the workplace,
I sense myself skimmed by
Soft-suctioning warm and
Pure breath, like
A calm mysterious and
Lumbering pulse and sense
This milieu's unsafe.
Nice elephants. Good elephants.

I keep my distance from these soul-snuffling
Crushers, these enormous interpenetrative
Existences, world-encompassing
Gray eminences. What is the
Source of the vaporous energy
Flowing through them
Exciting my awe, the
End to end vibrancy? One
Deep divine suspiration and
In no time they're quenched,
An afterglow in this office
Depopulated of visions.
I see no longer.
Am I elephantine? No doubt.

I've lived in a lot of states in a bunch of cities; I've worked at a multitude of jobs; I've attended a handful of universities; and I've had a little poetry, a little prose and a little drama published. I've written two novels, Geography of the Body and Retailing or, God, Computers, Rent, and I'm working on my third, a noirish literary effort I call The Big Deal. My husband and two cats live in a Victorian-era ex-rectory in a small Pennsylvania town in the Poconos a couple hours outside N.Y.C. I live with them.