The Waiting Room: A Poem

I pull at my husband’s arm
as if that tug will tether
a strand of my hair to a braid.
All eyes shift to us and lock.
He strikes me as walls
that bodies were born to lean against.
An ocean of braces, crutches, and casts.
Unwelcome props in a show that will close.
Those rolling chairs.
I’d walk a mile just to clip
the sight of those wheels
in a photo tarring my face.

My skin has slipped
like puffs of white alyssum seeds
succumbing to the passing spring.
Wrinkles write maps under my eyes.
I stare at a book, a tour of 9/11’s hell
that makes my snake pit
seem like pillows
propped against a paradise.
For a moment of grief,
the words of a worser pain
act like oblong pills.
All of us here — the brittle plate.

It’s a train wreck of twisted knees,
injuries crying for hope’s reverse.
Pain is a callus to sand,
but quitting the dance
is out of the question of will.
The healthy are taking notes.
As if their sentence is next on a page
that will turn to their trials.
Life is a cold church
but we pray as hair rises on arms
to blanket the thrust of the chill.
Lipstick is a little game
I’ve forgotten to add to my purse.

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