The siren in the distance, then near,
Chester on a gurney wheeled to the raised hatch.
Eleanor then, in the waiting room, waiting.
The doctor didn’t come and didn’t come.
Neighbor Leon, leaning against the stone wall outside,
helping to wait.
His wife Eileen too, her bent wrist on one hip,
her old fingers laced with his,
their bow legged white dog came along.
Farm clothes and faces lined with practiced resignation,
the old boar, the old cow in the pasture,
they all knew how to wait.
At home, the two wingback chairs in the parlor waited.
Baggy trousers on the wash line,
goats napping in the dusty yard.
The heart attack that stopped for a visit,
now down the road to someone else.
At home, his silver razor on the porcelain sink,
the shave cream, the mirror.
Eleanor touched his smooth bare head,
his Picasso face,
her voice examining to get a sense of him.
She touched his chest inside his shirt, his palms
to see if he had much grip.
In the late afternoon, he gazed from the window to the blue mountain.
It looked different. From now on, everything different.
by John Ziegler
Editor’s Note: The sharp, clean imagery of this poem creates snapshots of trauma that stick in the reader’s mind so acutely it’s almost a relief to read the last line.