In the Waiting Room

Craig Morgan Teicher

magazines from a lost month litter the end
tables. A pretty nurse

pops her head in and says,
The doctor will see you now, though not

to you, and no one stands up—you are
the only one waiting.

But soon the doctor will cast the long shadow
of his diagnosis. You’ve got

a thorn in your paw, a toothache, chronic
wide eyes, fear of fear

of fear itself, time on your hands
slipping between your fingers,

lost lust, purgatory, online pain, short
straws, overexaggeration,

the tendency to list: short, fat, and forlorn,
ever inoperable . . . O to have

a nurse of your very own, a time-angel, someone
on the one and only payroll

to pass you the pill it’s always time to take, whose
rear your eyes can follow

to Happytown. But now, here, however,
you are skimming an article

about the viral video that sank New York,
then a profile of the man

who played the real-life Michael Jackson.
An article on who really profits

from most chilly wind. On the truth about
close friendship. On ten safe things

to open your mind to. You are an
Elizabeth! You are one of them!

Soon someone will call you in.

More by Craig Morgan Teicher

Immortality

I feel like Emily Dickinson did, running her pale finger over each blade of grass, then caressing each root in the depths of the earth's primeval dirt, each tip tickling heaven's soft underbelly. I feel like Emily alone in her room, her hands folded neatly in her lap, waiting forever for one of those two daguerreotypes to embalm her precious soul.
        At my most attuned, the present is a pair of wings stretching forever in all directions, flapping calmly, calmly flapping. But as soon as I notice how happy I am, how close to the sun, there I go plummeting into the background of the same damn painting as ever.
        If I could reach my hand out to you now, would you take it? How do you think it would feel? Warm and soft and certain? Or like Emily's: clammy and brittle as hardened paste? Is that not how you imagine her hands? Look again—they were like that, otherwise she could never, would never, have written those poems.
 

About this poem:
"This poem comes from a series of prose poems about 'big ideas' written during a period when I was having trouble writing. To get the juices flowing again, I thought I'd try starting with titles, with big abstract concepts, and see where they led. They ended up leading to a handful of pieces like this, which will be published in a chapbook from Omnidawn later this year."

Craig Morgan Teicher

Another Poem on My Daughter’s Birthday

There must be soft words
for an evening like this, when the breeze
caresses like gentle fingertips
all over. I don’t know

how not to write darkly and sad.
But it’s two years today since
my little girl was born, cut safely
from the noose.

We meant nothing but hope;
how near death is to that.

Only children, only some children,
get to run free from these snags. She
was born! She lived and she grows
like joy spreading from the syllables

of songs. She reminds me of now
and now and now.
                            I must learn
to have been so lucky.

New Jersey

I was afraid the past would catch up with me,
would find this new house too like the scarred
old childhood home. But it hasn’t yet. A tree
casts soft and gentle shade over our green yard.
I feel forgiven all the sins I didn’t commit
for long minutes at a time. What were they?
I can’t now think of anything wrong with me—I fit
in these rooms, can mostly agree to each day.
For long minutes I don’t even blame my mother
for dying, my father for spending years in bed.
My little traumas are just souvenirs of other
lives, of places I might have once visited.
I’m mostly a father here, a husband, barely a son.
The big sun rises early here, as I do, with everyone.