To An Old Coworker

by Morgan Condict

We were mostly voices
to each other during the eight
hours in which our eyes
were fixed on work
or peering out the breakroom
windows over Potrero Hill
as midnight approached.
We traced with our bleary vision
the signal from Sutro Tower’s
four tiers of flashing lights
into hotel rooms, apartments,
the manager’s office,
where it swelled from screens
in a synchronous flicker
as you said
“just to see what it’s like”
of your coming trip to China,
before going and staying for good.
I had told others at work
the story of the tent
pitched in the middle of a sidewalk
across from a swanky gym.
How I’d seen it often walking to work,
but how like a nightmare it was
when one day from within
its tenant cursed and howled
as if in the throes of amputation.
And how plainly the flow
of foot traffic, tinted rotten
yellow by the wailing,
festered in confusion before
rechanneling away
from the noise.
How brokers on phones maintained
businesslike tones
with index fingers stuffed
in their ears practically
to the knuckle. Only to you
did I, with regret,
place myself
among the flowing