User, Experience

For me, working is sitting
here. They come to me with
questions. I don’t give
answers. I just help with
the right way to ask.

What’s the word, they say
for feeling like you’re about to step
off a cliff, and you don’t
but you keep feeling
and you keep stepping?
Heart, I say. We learned
that in school, first day.
I can do this in my sleep.

He says, what’s the word
for when you have an incurable disease 
and you know you’re 
giving it to everyone
you talk to
but you talk to
them anyway?
Playing, I say. Or, when you
get older, call it work. But keep
calling it play.

Next comes a child. Too young
to ask, too young to use
any of my words. In my lap
she deposits a dog, big-eyed,
its tongue shaking full of hope.
Sacrifice, I say. I pronounce it
again, more slowly, for the child
to remember, to one day 
understand.

Next is you. You stand, hesitate,
unsure what to say, unsure what
even the recipient should be
of your speech. I hesitate
too. Not to answer, but to let myself
succumb. Days pass. Eons. We
evolve into new generations, we turn
into ourselves. Still I cannot bring myself
to utter your word. Your head sinks
to my lap. I feel the tremble
of crying. No, I say. Your word, the word
you’ve been looking for, the word
you’ve never been able to say is

no.


_______
Photo from Light and Lightning, Illuminating Engineering Society Association of Public Lighting Engineers (Great Britain)