Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
In the Waiting Room


I have eight Irish uncles interrupting me with
bathroom jokes and Chinese food. They keep trying
to send me home to shower, to rest.
The waiting room is always
full. Maybe this is the eighth day, or maybe
I've never heard this song at all. I can't tell--everything
vinyl carpet plastic vending machine window pillow uncle
green--what keeps beeping?--smells like a place
I've never slept in. I keep making coffee
for the other family. They're kind, move
over to make room. Theirs had a stroke on Sunday,
"but he should be fine, fine." They ask,
do I eat, sleep? I've had my share
of Chinese food I tell them. Keep making coffee. I make
excellent coffee, my father would tell me. My father's
in there. I go in every few hours, sometimes
less. Plenty of visitors and eight impish uncles aping
James Cagney to distraction. One brought cards
but I don't want to play. I know there's a chapel downstairs--
maybe later. When I sit next
to my father, I read magazines to myself. I hate
magazines. Yesterday I said lunch: soup, chips, Cherry Coke,
did you hear the one about the princess and the opossum oh forget it
my father
hates chit-chat. I watch the nurses flirt. Remember his eyes are smoke-
blue. I know there's a virus
pink pink peony
in his head, but look
how petal still

Sheila Squillante is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, A Woman Traces the Shoreline (Dancing Girl Press, 2011), Another Beginning (Kattywompus Press, forthcoming, 2012), and Women Who Pawn Their Jewelry (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming, 2012). Her work has appeared widely in print and online journals such as Brevity, No Tell Motel, quarrtsiluni, MiPoesias, Phoebe, Cream City Review, TYPO, Quarterly West, Literary Mama, Glamour Magazine, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Penn State.

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thank you. so beautiful.
Lovely, Sheila. Just beautiful.
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