The Friday Poem: ‘The Boss’ by Deborah Garrison

One of the most important workplace relationships is the one between you and your direct supervisor. A good ‘boss’ will quickly sense your potential and connect your talents with work that challenges and enables professional growth. He/she employs personal experience to communicate the value of failure along with success. A good boss has a high EQ and a healthy dose of empathy for all.

For this week’s Friday Poem, a meditation on ‘The Boss’ through the eyes of poet Deborah Garrison.

The Boss

A firecracker, even after middle age

set in, a prince of repression

in his coat and tie, with cynical words

 

for everything dear to him.

Once I saw a snapshot of the house

he lives in, its fence painted

 

white, the flowers a wife

had planted leaning into the frame

on skinny stalks, shaking little pom-poms

 

of color, the dazzle all

accidental, and I felt

a hot, corrective

 

sting: our lives would never

intersect. At some point

he got older, trimmer, became

 

the formidable man around the office.

His bearing upright, what hair he has

silver and smooth, he shadows my doorway,

 

jostling the change in his pocket –

milder now, and mildly vexed.

The other day he asked what on earth

 

was wrong with me, and sat me down

on his big couch, where I cried

for twenty minutes straight,

 

snuffling, my eyeliner

betraying itself in the stained

tears. Impossible to say I was crying

 

because he had asked. He passed

tissues, at ease with the fearsome

womanly squall that made me alien

 

even to myself. No, it didn’t make him

squirm. Across his seventy years,

over his glasses, he eyed me kindly,

 

and I thought what countless scenes

of tears, of love revealed

he must have known.

 

Deborah Garrison   ‘A Working Girl Can’t Win’ 1998

a working girl can't win

Click on this link to hear the author read the poem as part of a 1999 interview with Bill Moyers.

“In this episode of Sounds of Poetry, Garrison tells Bill that poetry is about “trying to find a way to understand and describe the world that lifts you a little bit out of it, instead of just being in it and being lost.”

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