Some may remember this one. I was thinking about it the other day and thought of rewriting it. But I reread it first and found that there were some changes to be made but no need to scrap it. So, here it is. Reworked
In a waiting room
sitting in a semi-comfortable chair
doing exactly what the room is made for.
For my name to be called,
for my appointment
where I’ll tell the doc
how the seasons got me draggin’.
How deep into the abyss I can see
and who’s not in there with me.
But right now, I’m just waiting.
Personally, I watch people.
To pass the time,
see who else is sharin’
my current occupation.
I’m listening to music
in my headphones and
mimicking the double-kick
with my feet… badly
as my eyes scan the room.
This is where I imagine
I am am invisible to other waiters
because I’m looking them up and down
from my seat
And I don’t want them to catch me
and mistake it for starin’.
Across from me is an plump old lady
her stomach kinda sittin’ on her knees
her sides resting on the chair
in the place of where her arms go
and she’s restin’ her arms
on the folds of her own skin
like its extra padding for the chair.
She’s draped in a purple sweater
over an old grey t-shirt,
readin’ a book on pet detectives.
But I don’t know how much of it
she was actually readin’,
Cuz I never saw her turn the page.
Her face was wrinkled and sagging,
her top lip caved into her mouth
tellin’ me she was lackin’ some teeth
and was sportin’ a vicious mustache
to match the greasy strands of grey hair
spillin’ in every opposite direction
except over her eyes
So she could still read
Those same two pages.
Sittin’ next to me is an old black man
he’s kind of short and scrawny,
wearing fairly new blue jeans
and a black zip-up hoodie.
I imagine he is a king of nowhere
rocking back and forth on his throne
waiting for someone, anyone to return
to want to be part of his kingdom.
But until then, the king just sits.
His crown is a green baseball cap
and his bespectacled eyes
sort of gravitate to random parts of the room
and I think he knows that I’m watching him
out of my peripheral vision,
but he’s a king, man.
He knows that yer lookin’ at ‘im
cuz that’s what yer supposed to do
I return to focusing on the music in my ears,
starin’ at my shoes and the floor
just waiting for my name to be called
when someone else walks into the room.
She’s an older black woman with
relaxed hair parted down the middle
in light curls to her shoulders.
She’s wearin’ a shirt big enough
to cover her arms in the long sleeves
but not quite long enough
to contain her belly
which is spilling out from under the shirt
and over the waist of her pants
like she never quite recovered
from what I imagine is probably
the aftermath of childbirth
many years ago.
She goes to sit with the king
and I can see her talk to him
for a while and I don’t listen in
cuz the music is more interesting.
She stands up and she looks…
she looks at me
and I wonder if I’ve offended
who I’m guessing is the king’s queen
just by the way she seemed to be
Tellin’ the king what to do.
[It made me wonder which one
was the patient here.]
I look at her while looking down
so I don’t think she can see
my eyeballs are lookin’ up
but she catches me, I think
because I see her mouth move
in grand motions
her words drowned out
and every time her mouth opens wide
her top lip conforms to the curve
of the gums in her top lip.
And she’s talkin’ to me
but I don’t hear her,
cuz I got music in my ears
and she repeats herself
two or three times before I’m able
to shut it off to hear her.
And she bellows,
“WHAT ARE YOU?”
I must admit
This question had me stumped
for a moment or two,
thankfully, she continued
“You’ve got the pumas and the…”
I can tell here she’s searchin’ for words
to describe what she’s seein’
and that she doesn’t quite get it.
“And the earrings, boy… what are you?”
And all this time she’s makin’
the kind of up and down gesture
with her hands that is meant to
so I finally answer with
the easiest answer I can muster
and tell ‘er…
“My name’s Jeremiah.”
And I think that made all the difference
Because at first I thought she was asking
why I came here, what my diagnosis was.
[Bipolar Disorder, type II]
Or maybe what kind of creature I was
clad in black with extra metal accessories
and holes in places where they typically
[To which I would respond, simply “me”]
There were about a million things
I thought of before spouting my name, like
Master of the mercurial
Seeker of the divine
Fearer of doors
Busted up heart owner
Evasive love giver
Hug on demand provider
Open-eared, open minded listener
Random word writer
Midnight nowhere driver
I could have gone on in my head,
I really could have and
drawn up specs on how I’m constructed
and given those to the queen
because sometimes the words I speak
Get me in shattered glass house
troubles, cuz my words are like rocks
and yer gonna get hit unless you start
I just gave her my name
And that must have been enough
because her eyes got wide
from the verbal u-turn I pulled on her
And this is what she said,
“Oh, you got an angelic name”
and the king just looked at me,
no feeling, no intent, just looked
to which I responded,
“A biblical name, yes ma’am.”
And from the king and queen
[the king, was also nodding as if to
whole-heartedly agree with some point
I didn’t make.]
I elicited a smile and they
went back to their waiting
and I to mine.