The Waiting Room: Turville Bay Radiation Center
by Jackie Laneteig
It faces the lake. Windows make up
the wall, so it feels we are sitting outside
in a garden of lovely yellow, rust and red flowers.
A handful of people wait: a family
surrounds a woman in a turban
murmuring to her. Seated at the table with the jigsaw
is a young man, sandals criss-crossed
on feet as brown as coffee. Next to me
a camera is forlorn on a chair, ready to shoot,
its photographer somewhere.
A young woman comes into the room,
speaks softly to one of us who follows her
down the hall. The double doors hide
the massive white donut that waits for us.
I lie on that hard table, cushion under my knees
of little help against stiffness. A buzz and the rotation begins,
a quiet voice reminds me to be perfectly still
so long I feel I can no longer bear it. But I must. So I do.
In forty-five minutes, I’m helped to a sitting position
and get my balance before I go back to the room
where people wait, silent as the customers
in Hopper’s Night Hawks painting.
Jackie Langetieg is an award-winning poet and writer. She is a Jade Ring/Bard’s Chair winner and has published three chapbooks, White Shoulders and Just What in Hell Is a Stage of Grief, Letter to my Daughter (2019), two collections of her poems, Confetti in a Silent City and A Terrible Tenderness, and a recent memoir, Filling the Cracks with Gold. She is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She is retired from State Government and lives in Verona with her son and two cats. See: jackiella.Wordpress.com
Hospital visit number three, 2016
The bruises are already fading
from my overly-needled arms,
but inside, I’m racked with cramps
and urges I can’t control.
The staff were polite as they stabbed
and stabbed, leaving only blood
but no IV path. I lay waiting for the sleep
that never seemed to come.
Then a code called—a birthing going bad,
and the doctor left the room. For 30 minutes
a nurse sat next to me and made small talk.
Another just held my hand.
There were apologies on both sides;
staff draped in blue paper gowns wearing masks
for the pushing of interminable pain,
mine for having collapsed veins.
Finally, a new nurse arrived dressed in blue
over her clothes. She inserted one needle
and got the vein. The rest started the IV
and put the mask over my mouth and nose.
The nurse asked me to take deep breaths.
The next thing I was aware of was noise
and people telling me it was over—
I was stented and could return to my room.
I wish I could remember their names.