Waiting Room

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

Evaporating

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

Love

In those blood-shot eyes

And I hear

Love

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!

By Avellina Balestri

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