Poem: “Waiting Room”


waitingroom 2

Waiting Room

A young man
With a sparkling earring
And clothes that reek
Of sickening smoke,
The kind that dulls
All the senses
And makes me choke

He’s tapping his foot,
A jerking rhythm
Of uneasiness

The smoke is in his mind;
I know it is

His eyes are glazed
They dart as if watching
Ghosts from last night
Into puffs of smoke

Death and dullness
Inhale, exhale…again
Breath is for living
Or dying, it seems

Black and purple
Purple and black
The color of his clothes
And his bruised mind

A raven’s head
Is staring blankly
From his crumpled shirt;
It gives me chills

There is a tattoo
Scrawled up his neck
Green words, unreadable,
Possibly swears
Like every other word
He mumbles

His tone is monotonous;
His meaning unclear

O God, I wish he would leave…

A little child comes
Into this Waiting Room
Pudgy-faced, pink-cheeked
She coughs a little

Does she have a cold?
Or is it…the smoke?

And then I notice…
She is wearing black and purple too
It belies her soft features,
Her golden mop of hair
And baby-blue eyes

She’s playing with toys,
Sliding beads along twisted wires,
Running in circles,
Pretending to be a monkey
Or to fly from off a chair

She’s running…running…

Running into the arms
Of the young man
With a sparkling earring
And clothes that reek
Of sickening smoke

And he picks her up
And I see
In those blood-shot eyes
And I hear
In those mumbled words

And her face lights up
With angelic innocence
And she starts to play
With his backwards baseball cap

There are words in my heart
Burning, like my face:

“Let the little children come
To Me.”
To Me.
To him.
My God.

Was Christ before me
In this waiting room,
Gazing out
Through smoke-seared eyes
And mumbling
Through drug-cracked lips?

And while I wished Him
Far away
A little child
Saw the truth?

O Savior with the Suffering Face,
Teach me how
To see!

© 2016 Avellina Balestri


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