The Importance of Spaces: “Nonapology” and “Unhappy”

In her poems “nonapology” and “unhappy,” Laura Matthew transforms ordinary activities, such as fixing a computer in an office and observing the city from an apartment rooftop, into pieces of writing that are both transformative and haunting. Read them both below.

Laura Matthew

i am standing in the corner of someone’s office,

their corner office, in a room full of cubicles flooded

with ceiling-window light and young professionals

tapping away, murmuring to each other in hushed

tones and i have been waiting for the owner of this

particular office to come back to his computer because

i just need a minute of his time, just the credentials

just to log back in to what i was in the middle of fixing

he seems so skeptically optimistic when he returns

wondering if i have fixed it yet, disappointed that

i’m just looking for his slight assistance. it is too

quiet, in the room full of cubicles flooded with

ceilingwindowlight and young professionals tapping

away, murmuring to each other in tones, hushed

tones, hushed because important office doors have

been left opened, important business has been done

is being done, is doing, is, i think this is where

an institution feeds, or maybe that is too harsh for

they’re just looking for funds, that’s all, for gifts

for those who four to six years benefitted and

ended up rich to send something back to a place

that doesn’t want to appear as if it makes

a profit, in a room full of cubicles flooded with

ceiling, window, light, and young professionals who

are still tapping away, and i am pacing, averting

my eyes from forms labelled confidential yet left

open on desks, on tables. and i only mention this

because it is here, waiting for the owner of this office

with confidential forms and binders labelled “gifts”

do i realize that something about me is the same

as those murmuring hushed tones, and i have

become a hushed tone, a little too quiet

swept under the rug by normal level conversation

and when he comes back and apologizes

for having stepped away, my voice is up a notch

when i tell him not to worry about it.
in old apartments high above the

dirty city, i have found myself picking

at the great oozing scab of my life and

lacking antiseptic or proper measures

to prevent infection, watching greenish

pus as it tends to gush across the small

ravines of my dry skin, i have wished

for better days at four in the morning

listening to the sound of train track

snoring without knowing that it would

follow me to my future even as i shed

exoskeletons like shackles for i am

the locus(t) of my own control. it is this

wishing i am reminded of when i am

lost in thought while fishing for the keyfob

to unlock my car and drive away; if only

i’d had my own keys before. would i

have ended up here? this i do not know

and consider over ice water and a bag of

sea salt chips, and the clink on glass

is like the sound of someone else’s unhappy

shovels full of starch and salt meeting

in the middle of me until i vomit someone

else’s tears but i just can’t help it, i tell

myself as i am musing all the ways that

one can remain stagnant, and consider

themself fully satisfied. and as i wander

in my thoughts i stumble upon my old

protests to myself, that i should do what

i’ve been told and stay in line lest i should

lose what i call mine and be reduced to

scabs and scars and stomach acid though

perhaps it’s all what i deserve. but i have

grown, perhaps, or spread, perhaps,

metastasized, or for better or worse at

least migrated to brighter skies and

found a bit of something to cure my case

of unhappy. should i consider this

a reward deserved? an achievement unlocked?

a bond that had been building for all this time?

or would my arguments be wasted breath

on those who’ve already plotted

and schemed

and planned my death?

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