Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor
Listen, the retiring assistant opinions editor
once said to me.
If Joan Didion thinks so, then so do I.
So I guess Joan Didion thinks that it’s time for me
to find a new editorial partner.
Snow tumbles outside my window and I
drink coffee which isn’t decaf but
might as well be, might as well be nothing
for the bean water doesn’t taste like anything.
Two years back, more or less
Maggie Durwald slid an ethics form across
the table in the conference room and
hired me, and so came the nights where we
baked cumin cookies subsequent to drinking and drinking
Until I met Maggie, until we were the opinions editors
I was just a plant in botanical anguish.
And now I am still a plant but
a plant without a friend
a bonsai that’s unclipped, a succulent with water
but no sunshine. Maggie, if we were plants, real plants,
we would talk to each other.
But we aren’t plants —
No, we’re people, people with lives to manage and
cats to feed and decaf coffee to drink and —
With time comes change, the news editor tells me but still
change is tender, change is loud and painful
like our side of the office cubicle
like our Thursday night staff meetings.
I peed and peed my pants in my car
writes Ross Gay, in his book of delights.
I don’t know how that’s a delight,
neither do you, neither do our staff columnists who have
for some reason endured the insanity we brought to staff meetings —
they should put that on their resume.
But here is what I do know:
I thought my biggest fear was a life without cumin but perhaps
I was wrong. If I wrote my own book of delights, which I won’t
because that would be plagiarism, and yes, I read the ethics form
but still, if I did, it would be a book about working with you.
Dear Maggie, let me tell you something else
Joan Didion says. She says you have to pick the places
you don’t walk away from. And you might have walked away
from the office, but you haven’t walked away from me.
A Pitt News paper rustles outside and I think of how quiet
I will be in the office without you. Maybe. Either way
there’s a silence, barren, in the absence
of your editorial remarks.
The hardest thing about losing a lover
writes the poet Anne Carson
is watching the year repeat its days.
I wonder if Anne Carson
ever lost an editorial partner.
Send Leah your condolences at LEM140@pitt.edu.