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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 GriefLetter 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:

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.

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