Dogs 2010

VISITING HOURS
(6/21/10)


the cool rush
of conditioned air
from the parting
automatic doors
was a vast relief
from the heat
and humidity
outside

destination
fifth floor
I walked across
the sunny lobby
to the elevator bank
buttoned a car
that opened immediately
and begin my ascent
to the brain injury
rehab ward

proper
elevation attained
I stepped into the hall
and wandered past
the empty
reception window
my shoes
squeaking
on the shiny
floor

only a few
nurses and orderlies
milled about
distractedly
on a Sunday
afternoon

none took
notice
of me

none except
an elderly woman
in hospital attire
sitting by
herself
in the common
waiting and
visitation
area

she looked
up at me
and smiled

I waved
and smiled back
as I passed by
then began
my search
for Room 598

our company's
owner
was groggy
and failed to grasp
some of the finer points
of our business
discussions
so I kept
the conversation general
hoping that improvement
would be coming
in the next
few days

after
an awkward
20 minutes
or so
I wished him
a Happy Fathers Day
said goodbye
and left

approaching
the outer area
again
the old woman
still alone
crooked her head
at my footsteps

the smile
reappeared
and she reached out
as I came near

without thinking
I held out
my hand
and let her
take hold

"you
remind me
of my son"

she said
softly
raspingly
voice apparently
out of
practice

"do I?

does he
visit often?

I'd like
to meet
my twin"

I replied
grinning
all the
while

her face
transformed
all too quickly
to a mixture
of confusion
and pain

she swatted
in front of her
with the free hand
as if shooing
away
bad memories

I angle
my head
away
a bit
then looked
to the desk
to see
if anyone there
was aware
of her
or my
discomfort

however
her agitation
passed
the light
returned
to her face
and her fluttering
hand
fell back
to her knee

"it's
a lovely
day"

she commented

"yes it is
ma'am
although
it's a bit
warm
out there

it's much
nicer
in here"

I said
as I gently
removed
her hand
from mine
to rejoin the other
patting them both
as I completed
the reintroduction

"yes
it is nice

will you
be coming
back soon
Roger?"

flustered
momentarily
at the mention
of someone
else's name
I thought

what
could it
hurt?

"yes, Mom
I'll be back
as soon
as I can"

she smiled
and said

"well
be careful
on your way
home"

backing
away slowly
I told her

"I will
Mom

you take
care"

she nodded
then resumed
staring at the floor
as she was
when I first
arrived

very strange

I wondered
when I would
be able
to return

and
if my boss
would know
that I
stopped by
without
saying
hello