October 11, Noon: Friends and Other Strangers
by Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
Instead of plaster, massive plates of glass
pretend to be a wall; they pass me by,
bouncing autumn sun off my eyes, playing
back a too-familiar image: Me. Here.
It isn't right, a hospital you see through;
a hospital you see through has no shame.
I need my wall.
Not loving friends.
I learned the rules of waiting lightyears past;
I pass GO everytime, on every roll, without repeating:
I'm ok, honest.
They're driving in by now, they can't be stopped -
damn them - why did I say Come?
In case. In case of what? In case the shaman's
tools, gleaming in a stranger's hands, slip.
That's what they think. But that bet's safe,
riding smug and easy on veteran skill,
making the 1st cut for biopsy 2,
the one they don't know about, the one
that counts, the one that says: Ok - Continue, or,
Sorry - too late, after all - Close him up.
I should have heard by now,
before they find a place to park, flounder
through 6 tiers of lobbies, sight me
among my peers.
What's wrong with them? Don't they know civility demands
that screams be secret? Don't they know
I can't be touched today? I can't
be seen today?
Why not? What could they see?
Me. Alone. Like them.
They'll reach for me, they'll
think their words are more than
poundings in my head.
I take a walk and have a cigarette.
I look at windows, hold a magazine.
They said they'd be here, twelve o'clock, they said.
What time is it? It's 12:05. They're late.
~ first published in Sensations