Waiting Room Blues

Image of the McCleary-Thornton-Minor Hospital waiting room in Excelsior Springs, Missouri during the 1970s. Check out those ashtrays~ health, ammiright?!

Image of the McCleary-Thornton-Minor Hospital waiting room in Excelsior Springs, Missouri during the 1970s. Check out those ashtrays~ health, ammiright?!

“The world doesn’t owe you anything,”

that’s what I’ve been warned

again and again.

it’s just what people say—

a colloquial phrase

even so, I never wanted to believe it 

but, despite my blind, teeth-gritting optimism 

sometimes I am still afraid that

my sadness will swallow anyone who dares step in my path.

Sitting in my car outside the doctor’s office

with the AC cranked 

on a sweltering June day, facing the mountains

mist hangs in the air like a damp curtain

eggshell white

                 are the walls in the waiting room

where the clock says “no time today,”

and an owlish receptionist purses her lips 

and the woman on the lime green couch buries her head deeper into a 2017 edition of Cosmo 

and nobody sees me

or everyone’s just trying not to look at me

and the despair feels unending and

and I’m not sure what to do 

so I hide in my car and

some turbulent ocean turns in my stomach

bleeding out on my legs.

I hate this sense of desperation creeping in.

But,

as much as I tell myself not to bend to such self-pitying depths and

as many times as I slap myself on the wrist

the message just won’t deliver.

The pit runs deep—

the desire to feel secure,

to be supported.

Haven’t you heard?

No one’s giving it for free these days.

I am 25—by all standards, no longer a dependent

so why do I feel so easily reduced to a helpless child?

I can’t afford it. To be in this state.

Still attempting to balance it all with grace:

the appointments, rent, multiple jobs, laundry, gigs, sustenance.

But,

when it seems that even brushing my own hair is too much,

some faded memory wags it’s finger 

and scolds bitterly:

Get up.

The world doesn’t owe you anything.

Well,

At least that’s what I’ve been told.

But, even after all these lacerations 

I have hope that there is 

some over-arching care.

That I will be heard by

this benevolent motherly force out there,

just watching me cry in my car

and wanting to touch my back with its soft hand,

unperturbed by the visceral scene

or my guttural sobs.

So

I put my head down

on my knuckles, grasping the steering wheel and

mumble some words—

never taught how to pray

so I just say “please”

until there’s nothing left in me

but quiet resignation—

something resembling peace,

a baby rocked gently 

towards the point of sleep.