Double scotch tonight, twist of lime. No ice, no
Chaser. Will you stop bugging me about her?
She was first, no question about it. Did the
Books, yes, the records,

Held away the creditors—babysat, for
Christ’s sake. Just us two, and my bright idea,
Which she barely understood. “Software bringing
Business to business”;

“Innovation”; tentative rounds of funding;
Smart-ass venture boys; dog-and-pony demos;
IPOs: through all of it, all she knew was
Loyalty, dogged

Loyalty. And now? Just behind me there’s a
Frozen city: that’s how I see the past, and
When I let her go, she had started freezing
Up like a statue

Of herself, a woman I might once have known
Dimly, in a thaw long ago, but couldn’t
Recognize. Out front there’s the mostly frozen
Harbor, with sunlight

Beating on it day after day. Soon fissures
Start zigzagging, widening through the warming
Surface of the sea, and here I see it first:
Gold, you might say, or

Oil beneath the ground, in a whale; in other
Words: a chance for profit. And only I am
There to make it. Business has changed; she didn’t,
Wouldn’t or couldn’t,

And she cost too much. Yes, there was a moment,
Just before I called her in, when she seemed to
Know her time was up, when I wondered: Could I
Go on without her?

Through the glass divider, I saw her placid
Look begin to brighten into a glow that
Seemed like understanding. That single moment
Passed when she walked in,

Twenty years behind us. I fired her; she left.
Nothing more—except for that image of her
In a swivel chair, her eyes half closed, turning
Back and forth, thinking.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 32 Number 5, on page 51
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