by Larry Pike
I have been in this room before,
one like it, one of a thousand, a million—
past the gift shop, the snack bar, x-ray, PT,
round and around the maze of wings,
2 East, 3 West, halfway down a hallway—
adjustable bed, leather-like recliner, mini-TV,
compact metal nightstand, rollaway tray;
vague blue paint on block; small shaded window
with a view, if you could move your head,
raise your eyes a little. I will watch
for you, the anticipated meteor shower tonight,
the drizzle forecast for later in the week.
This is what we’ve come to in this room: I wait,
thumbing last week’s Time lifted from the lobby;
you consume tireless mechanical breaths.
Once, after you underwent a successful minor procedure,
we spent an uncomfortable night in a room like this. Sleepless,
I stood by you. In the vapor, snow dusted firs
along the parking lot I could see through the small window.
Each time you stirred against some pain, you asked
if I wasn’t hungry, if I wasn’t tired, didn’t I want to go home.
You said, I’ll be all right, I’ll be right here,
do what you want. What I want now won’t be satisfied
by a reflexive flutter of eyelids, subconscious
reply to this repeated plea: wake and tell me again.
I don’t expect it. We wear a hopeless silence,
an unrepentant habit, something sterile
and sharp like the starched sheets changed
every day. A nurse rolls you, rocks you
back and forth, an empty ship drifting on a receding sea.