As morning strains to pump daylight
through the tinted windows of the waiting room,
a family's prayers embrace the air.
Elevator doors slice through conversations
surrounding the nervous tic of a clock.
People clutching pillows wrestle with sleep,
their dreams splintered by wooden chair arms.
Meanwhile, a voice repeatedly sounds
a doctor's name over the intercom.
The receptionist knits her brows, caught up
in the muffled yarn of a TV talk show
while, for those wrapped in worry,
time moves more slowly than color returning to a face.
Letters forever blocked inside a crossword puzzle
rest beneath an outpatient's false teeth
clenched in a container on a table.
Beside herself, a woman standing alone in a corner
clasps her coffee, as dark, swirled,
and hard to stomach as the moment before her.