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!

By Avellina Balestri