The Color Change from an Office Window

adam posting:



for John McPhee

It is same transformation as last year

For the yellow-red and orange-brown leaves,

So gradual that there is not even

The remembrance of what I was doing

When it happened last, except that I was here.

Here in the office, next to the Canon

Copy machine, the particle board desks,

The maddening hum of shared space.


It reminds me, looking out, of Eskimos

In Alaska. The humiliation

Of losing freedom an acre at a time—

In the end, they couldn’t survive on the food

Of civilization. “If we have nothing left,”

They said of their own Eskimo rations,

“We cannot live. We eat and eat and eat,

But never get filled up—like starvation.”


It is like that to watch the changing leaves

From the insulation of a twelfth-floor

Window, to sit in this commercial chair

And press myself toward work

That will never lead to satisfaction.

And what will it be like to celebrate

Another fall, and another, until

Even my eyes have deadened into glass?



2 responses to “The Color Change from an Office Window

  • zach

    I should not have read that poem while at work. It made me want to get up and leave immediately with my final notice in hand. Luckily it is 4:54 and I can wait another 6 minutes and see if tomorrow brings anything different. Unfortunately, my office is even more depressing as we have no windows and therefore fall, winter, fall and spring merge into an eternal gray. Yet, here I am applying to law school, which seems to only point towards more offices in the future. Hopefully, I can bank on the fact that meaningful work will lead to satisfaction and the changing colors of leaves can be replaced by the changing faces of the oppressed and the vulnerable.

  • Charles

    I applaud the unrest in this poem. That ferment is God given and will take you places. As Dr. Seus once said, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Thank God for the “goads” – this pricking is good and urges into action. We know you do best in action, or at least anyone who has seen you round first base knows this. You’re not one to settle for just one base when there’s more ahead. And there is more ahead.

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