Portrait of an Administrator with Strategic Plan and Office Supplies
To sit on her couch was to be silencedby upholstery, plush muffling of cushionsfrom which it was difficult to rise.Arendt writes, in politics obedienceand support are the same, and for a timeI was obedient, my reports in ordered bullets:collaborations, programs, opportunities.The provost preferred speech contained—a line of staples in a box. I rememberthe fold between one week and the next.She said to me, these people are unreasonable.She said, these people are quite reasonable.Inside her office everything was cream.She told me what I heard I hadn't heard,our last meeting like a memo full of typoswhited out, then shuffled throughthe copier machine, language turned to shiny blurs.Arendt writes, most people will comply. For a time, it was easy to ignore the sharpwedge of the provost's hair. I should have seenshe resembled more a letter opener on a desk,how like a knife the piece of metal looks.I told her what I heard I heard.I told her that my expertise was words.Arendt writes, the holes of oblivion do not exist.A gifted bureaucrat, the provost taught metruth was thin as paper—the little circlesshe punched in it remain, and stillI hold this punctured story to the light.
“Portrait of an Administrator with Strategic Plan and Office Supplies” from WILD KINGDOM: by Jehanne Dubrow.
Published by LSU Press February 24th, 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Jehanne Dubrow.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Jehanne Dubrow is the author of nine poetry collections, including most recently Wild Kingdom (Louisiana State University Press, 2021), and a book of creative nonfiction, throughsmoke: an essay in notes (New River Press, 2019). Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Colorado Review, and The Southern Review. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Texas.
"This truly astonishing book manages to carve out—with craft and wit and, most daringly, vulnerability—not just the view of a poisoned landscape of learning, but a map of how the self at the center can escape an untamed place."
—Aaron Smith, author of The Book of Daniel and Prime
"Wild Kingdom rewilds academia for those who thought they knew it, and holds a mirror up to campus life in all its tragedy, and poignancy, and folly.”
—Patrick Phillips, author of Elegy for a Broken Machine and Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America
“Dubrow’s poetry is never less than astonishing.”