Whether by firing, pink-slipping, or skipping off to greener pastures, the departure of a co-worker can leave the rest of an office bereft and feeling abandoned. It is no surprise that the poetic tradition surrounding the loss of a co-worker is almost as rich as the long history of poems about love. The much-beloved Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, depicts the acceptance of conclusion in his poem "Porch Swing in September":
She is saying itís time that the swinging were done with,
There is a mournful limbo, a purgatory, during those two weeks after the co-worker gives notice but still lingers in the office. Some may feel anger and resentment, as Thomas Hardy declares, "How great my grief, my joys how few, / Since first it was my fate to know thee!" Or, others may feel tenderness toward the soon-to-leave, attempting to memorize a staff meeting gesture, the clutch of a coffee cup, or the arrangement of a cubicle -- all the small things. In "The Waste Land," T. S. Eliot aptly captures this grief:
The nymphs are departed.
Of course, the co-worker may feel an exhilaration upon leaving, the excitement of "O September, O October, O November--/ You can take this job and shove it." as exclaimed in Ryan Murphy's poem "Alloy Sun." The decision to leave a job is always a difficult one, even in the worst of circumstances. The subject of Ralph Burns' poem, "And Leave Show Business?" struggles with this reluctance, this fear of change:
This elephant keeper shoved a hose up
As you stare at the unused terminal and await the pale substitute sent in as replacement, one should remember Elizabeth Bishop's words from "One Art," -- "I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster."
For poems about the departure of a co-worker, consider the following:
"The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot