The Temp

Thea Brown
A black and white photo of a row of cubicles.
Photograph by Kate Sade on Unsplash

Work, I know. This knowing: work. This, knowing work, and so, a nap. Working, my expertise, sort of. A living. The living? Or, groceries? Most of a week’s groceries. Part of most of a week’s groceries, oh and a resume entry, reentry, entry, reentry. 

A place I go, know, and drink light coffee. A cube of one’s own. A germy, fluorescent place. One’s bag lunch, Tupperware with mismatched lid, labeled, as if to say, I chose this, I promise.

A zebra plant, having known no other means of light, flourishes in the northern corner of the assigned desk. A human, having known some other ways of living, eats the loose M&M’s provided in reception. Everywhere, this repeated scene, all cities, recent eras, ultralit like a drug.

What, I know, record. Reinterpretation to excise meaning, black out, forget it, erase parts, and make something new, potent, consumable. My living, it’s the end of the round wide world. Whose hand was this I held in yesterday’s position? The question’s been posed and answered, worked over and repurposed. A place I go, I promise, and look no further.

Originally from the Hudson Valley in New York, Thea Brown is the author of the chapbook We Are Fantastic (Petri Press, 2013) and the full-length collections Think of the Danger (H_NGM_N, 2016) and Famous Times (Slope Editions, 2019). Recent or forthcoming work can be found in Lit Hub, Vinyl, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore.