In the Waiting Room
by Laura Foley

Her chest is still bleeding
and I am in the waiting
room, remembering this morning,
how I learned to push a wheelchair—
fast along the corridor, Whee!
across the Bridge of Hope,
Emily’s poem engraved on the wall,
my beloved wife chanting:
Hope is the Thing with Feathers,
as I steer her fast up the slight incline,
as we are Camino pilgrims
crossing the Pyrenees once again.
And even though her chest
still bleeds from a port inserted
near her heart, even though we rose at four
for a five o’clock appointment,
arriving in the dark, greeted by secretaries,
nurses still sleepy from bed,
we are now mid-day, a day
we know will be the longest,
hardest, yet, how good to know,
even though it’s painful
to see the redness and the bandage,
you are here with me, as I mouth these words
under my breath, the imagined you—
listening to me, where I am still waiting,
in the waiting room, dear reader.

PAINTING: Angel of Hope by Carlos Schwabe (1895).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem as I was waiting in the hospital waiting room at the Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston. The act of imagining readers hearing my thoughts helped me to cope with the feelings of fear, uncertainty and exhaustion that accompany any perilous journey, with an unknown end. Immediately, I felt less alone.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. Visit her at