Prayer to Our Lady of Waiting Rooms
Let the seats be plentiful and padded. Let the magazines be recent or let the book I’ve brought last until we can leave. Let the TV on its bolted stand be off, muted, or showing something I can ignore— weather, gameshows, CNN. Let the room be mostly empty—no one shouting, sobbing, asking about my husband’s health. Let everyone be strangers except the staff. Let the walls be freshly painted, soothing to behold. Let my husband be there for a physical or routine checkup. Let no one comment on my clothes or unwashed hair, how I can sit so calmly while he has staples or a catheter removed, his lungs or heart or kidneys tested, an infected wound debrided. Under no circumstances let me be called into the back by a nurse who touches my arm, says I’m sorry but— Let my husband walk out whistling before I’ve finished my book, looked at my watch too many times. Let the news be good or benign, his next appointment not for months. When the waiting is over, let us walk outside feeling better, or at least no worse, than we did before.
Copyright © 2011 Carrie Shipers. Originally published in New England Review Volume 32, Number 4. Used with permission of the author.
Carrie Shipers is the author of Family Resemblances (University of New Mexico Press, 2016). She teaches at Rhode Island College in Providence.
Date Published: 2017-09-11
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/prayer-our-lady-waiting-rooms