A colleague hides behind himself,
comes to the workplace only occasionally,
bright and sunny, full of smiles,
wanting to avoid conflict.
He is new to the country, from a war-torn area.
We talk about his recent trip alone to Alaska
and about people in our workplace.
It’s hard to know what he really thinks when he says:
“He’s nice…. She’s nice…really great.”
I contemplate each inch of his vertebrae, his stoop,
tell him I feel angry about some things, things he can relate to,
light a match at a lower point, reach in deep,
find a tiny ledge, a nook, a covered candle on the left and right.
I’ve got him now at the waist, a slight tickle and hold,
suggest we plan some group activities.
He says, “You and I can hang out alone” – this tentative gesture he always makes,
this opening and folding, setting an origami swan in my palm.
He smoothes his thinning hair, conscious of his appearance.
His dark eyes shift, deepening with emotion,
cannot hide behind the eight ball.


Andrea Nicki is a published poet and professor of philosophy from Canada. She has three poetry books published and forthcoming poetry in an anthology edited by Larissa Shmailo by Mat Hat Press. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy and teaches business ethics at colleges for international students/new immigrants in Vancouver.