Rhina P. Espaillat


Arrayed as if this ward were some bright deck
scrubbed for a long, romantic, costly cruise,
they wait for passengers, steel arm and neck
gleaming with welcome. Three, exchanging views,
huddle like cronies glad to be aboard
together among strangers; here and there
a loner muses; two lean close to hoard
some gossip much too scandalous to share.

Nurses in soft pastels chatter and smile;
light music tinkles somewhere overhead,
and floral paintings in a sprightly style
conjure the ghost of summer, long since dead.
But wheelchairs, glinting, wink as if to say,
"Not now, not yet, but you and I, someday . . ."

Rhina P. Espaillat, Playing at Stillness, Truman State
University Press, 2005.