hospital hallway with open door

Elegy for Waiting Rooms

What cleaner is used in hospitals, anyway?
The same smell everywhere, acidic—
not completely unpleasant.

Please refrain from entering water feature or smoking in this area.
Small sign declaims to the masses.

Easy to say; no water here.
Not anymore.
Hospital room burned out like a lightbulb, hollow
bowl of sooty scar.

Hospital waiting room, empty
amphitheater. Hospital courtyard:
just a collection, a landscape, of barren rock;
fronds of grass, deep green mystery,
no blue for birthing;
the windows, looking-glass for giants,
reflecting my own face back to me. 

Hospital courtyard:
new waiting room.

Things are different now,
they keep telling us.
Please, stay outside.
In the days before, things would have been different.
We would have watched them
bind your leg to cast, replace the needle in your vein.

But not now. For now,
stay out:
Play cards on the bench, appreciate
both legs, make calls to the family.

We watch the sun go down on the era.

Eily McIlvain
+ posts

Eily McIlvain is a Clark College alumna, now pursuing her BFA in Fiction at Portland State University. For her, the poetic and the prosaic are inextricable from one another. Her work has been previously published in Phoenix. She spends most of her time writing or cooking, and enjoys the cozy and the Gothic.