in the waiting room
sitting in the crowded emergency room,
burns on my hand from the surprisingly hot grill,
the woman across from me talks to herself.
she complains about how long she’s been sitting there,
waiting to be seen by a doctor,
watching other people be taken ahead of her.
behind me, another woman,
who says she has had a headache since yesterday,
has been waiting since noon.
she’s on the courtesy phone yelling to the answering service
about how long she’s been ignored by the doctors.
she’s angry about the wait, the headache,
the lack of answers from the infuriatingly calm staff,
and she wants to file a formal complaint.
I’m not sure what the courtesy phone is for,
but I don’t think that’s it.
the elderly nurse calls me in after only a few minutes,
takes my blood pressure, assures me that the wait won’t be long.
I comment on the colorful prints on her staff hospital smock,
I laugh at her unfunny joke about the thermometer,
I make cute flirty small talk with her,
and then retake my waiting room seat.
five minutes later, I’m seeing a doctor.
twenty minute later, I’m walking back through the waiting room,
signing the paperwork to leave.
the burns on my hand have softened
and are now covered in balm and gauze.
the woman talking to herself glares at me silently,
then comments to the woman on the courtesy phone
about the unfairness of it all.