Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash
I wait for the next appointment knowing
it will arrive as another scheduled day
where I’ll put my body in a stranger’s hands.
That person in white will study my numbers,
listen to my heart, press fingers into my flesh,
and then say words over my nakedness
with all the authority of a MD who’s seen
this before, who’s sure what I should do next.
I’ll take it all in, nodding, processing it all,
asking the few questions that stumble out.
I’ll carry it home, this verdict that will turn
me somber or release my still held breath.
I will know what ways my body will shape
another day, what appointments I must keep.
Through the window of a restaurant, I watch
an elderly man wait for his driver, perhaps
his granddaughter, to open his door. She
offers a hand which he chooses not to accept.
Instead, he turns his body by lifting his thin legs
out the car and places his feet on the pavement.
He reaches for the doorframe to pull himself up.
Seeing his hard struggle, she helps the lift
by tugging on his arm and the frail man finds
himself standing, almost steady, anticipating
his next move, one slow foot forward, then
another, then another, his helper holding on.
I slide my seventy-five-years from the booth,
wait by the exit to see a man’s next steps.
Wobbling toward death, the physical wreck
of an old man worries what might be next
as he holds himself together with the twine
of his forgetful mind. It’s a losing cause,
this tying, this knot of wishful thinking
now that he’s over the hill, over the bumps
of life’s uncertainties. He wraps himself
in a blanket, trying to keep the cold away,
and reaches for his coffee to take the last
of today’s pills. He gulps their empty
promise, keeping the daily pretense alive,
honoring his contract to those who still care.
He nods off in his worn chair, swallowing
the spit of thoughts he wants to escape.