Hours in the Waiting Room

There are days when you wish the world

would bury itself so deep in the pit of your stomach

that it might never come out again,

even if a whole flock of doctors

(white coats flapping)

went looking for it.

It's a filling thing, swallowing the world.

Better than just digesting guilt and empty calories,

vending machine meals,

that taste no worse than their wrappings.

Block blue and white advertise:

"Hungry? Why wait?"

You are hungry, and you're still waiting,

here in this room of magazines and brave smiles

waiting for a clipboard on legs to walk in and

tell you to take your turn through the hallways

-winding around checkered corners-

until you are prompted to stop and enter a room.

It won't be a room you know, not by feel

(it's plain and sterile as a needle.

one of the million pinpricks of living,)

but inside it is a mess of gauze and IV

and sunken cheek bones that you will recognize;

that you will remember from outside this place,

from the actual world.

Sunshine and chaos and growing things.

Living. Not still as medicine.

He will stir like a mummy with Hollywood slowness

as he tries to shape words, cupping them fish-mouthed at you.

When he does this, you will tell him to be quiet.

Save his breath.

Save his strength.

The words will have already been unsaid so loudly

that it's a wonder the two of you aren't deafened.

You will move to put a hand over your own ears,

as a ringing silence descends.

There is no reason to be here, waiting.

No purpose in this white room, clean of cells.

There is no sense in watching someone collapse.

From the couch you rise and walk for the door.

Sometime later the clipboard arrives

Says your name once, clearly

Then gives up.