All except three are brought in
on wheelchairs. Two have hands
that flutter like leashed doves:
trying to take off, but not
succeeding. One has a worry
doll of some sort on his lap.
Two slump slightly forward
and appear to fall asleep
for a few minutes at a time.
One asks where I am from
when I go to shake her hand
in greeting; then she tells me
I am from England— England.
One, when speaking, slurs
some of the ends of her lines.
A nurse or orderly sits discreetly
at the back of the room. All
are dressed comfortably,
as if they were about to go
play cards or sit in the garden
while having a cup of tea. I know
one of them, and that she at least
has family nearby; in her one-
bedroom flat, she is surrounded
by books and her favorite art.
Among them, on a Friday morning
in a room where a vase of white
flowers gleams on the grand piano
and leatherbound copies of National
Geographic line the shelves, I read
poems: on daughters, mothers, partners;
on phone calls from annoying insurance
agents; about the uncertain cargo
we push in front of us as we go,
telling ourselves there’s a bit of a ways
more, but how much more, we don’t know.
In response to Via Negativa: Old, blue.