When he hit the ground
after his undignified flight,
with his feet wrenched to one side
and his head surprisingly
unhurt despite the angle of the fall,
his first thought was of all he had to do that day
and of how feared being seen as inadequate
if he was unable to do it.
So he got in the car
and went to work.
He limped into the building at eight
and figured it would be okay
as long as he stayed off his feet.
By ten o’clock, his leg was fine
but the pain in his back had begun
to bubble and throb. He could feel
a curve in his spine that wasn’t there before,
a gentle, sinister arch
two inches to the left
of the normal line,
and whether it was real or not
the pain of holding himself up
began to play his head for pity.
He ground his teeth and managed a smile
while doing what he had to do
to keep himself upright,
to get things done,
to fight past his agony
and look like a productive member
of this workforce…
in other words,
to do the same thing he did