Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Holding Pattern

You are waiting in the library with its stacks of books and stained glass windows; waiting in sunny coffee shops and dimly-lit barrooms; waiting at the dining room table, with three small children prattling away; waiting for the sun to set so you can fall asleep and for the sun to rise so you can, too, just because you can, because when you were ill you could not; waiting for a letter to arrive in the mail to seal a deal for a book you have yet to write; waiting in waiting rooms and bathrooms and in a double bed, alone; for sex; for love; for a still small tremor; for red lights to turn green and for green lights to turn red, just to prove to yourself that you can until it becomes absurd, waiting.

For a period because cancer treatment has stolen your youth; for scans and scopes to tell you the cancer has not returned, or to tell you it has; for your mother to die because you are so afraid of her death it hurts to be with her while she is still alive; for the boots you ordered to arrive in the mail; for snow because this year you will dress the part and not quit after one snowman while the children scream for more; you want more; you want to scream for more.

Because you cannot imagine what life would be like without it, this waiting, only you are not a patient person, and because you never had anything that you did not work for, you deem waiting a kind of work, the work of martyrs, tortured since the day they first said, I want, since they first wanted that second kiss.

Waiting, in train stations and on subway platforms; in airports and vestibules and foyers; in front of elevators and computer screens and outside post offices that open at nine o’clock and it is always eight-fifty-eight. 

Waiting, because something good is on its way, because nothing good ever stays, and if you do not wait for the next best thing, you may very well end up without the right boots and no postage stamps, and then you will never return that letter that never seems to come, the one that always begins,

Dearest Beloved, I have been waiting a long, long time for you.

                                ("Holding Pattern" appears in the spring 2013 issue of Map Literary.)