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Monday, May 07, 2007

In The Waiting

Category: Issue 6, Poetry/Lyrics Winners

In the Waiting Room of Tri-County Children’s Health Services

This has got to be a dream Ezra says,
and I know exactly what he means.
Every week we sit in this dingy
waiting room, maple chairs shifting
from side to side with their graying
pink cushions, the smell of poverty
in the air (if you are poor you know
what this smells like), here to see his
therapist, Barb. He has been coming
weekly since he was four. Something
about the way he can’t control
his impulses, his anxiety. I suspect
that he is as normal as they come,
just a seven year old with a big
brain and a precocious sensitivity,
an only child with a grown-up’s
perspective, capable of reading
the posters on the walls, knowing
what they mean:
If you are raising your grandchild,——-,
If you need help, dial——-.

I left him for several years with his father
and so there are dues to be paid.
These weekly sessions are the cost,
my failures measured out in tax-payer’s coins,
writing doctor’s appointment every Monday
in the check-out ledger at his school.
The other mothers yell into their cells,
ply their kids with Gameboys
and fast food, neglect the time-honored
tradition of cutting their kid’s hair.

I don’t want to be classist, don’t want
to look down on these other moms’ dress
sweats and barking commands. I know that
they were there, know that the only reason Ezra
gets services is because we, too, are poor,
feel more guilt and shame than anyone I know.
Every week he freezes right before
we get to the waiting room, looks in
to see if there is anyone here from school,
anyone who will recognize him,
mostly other boys who are in Special
Ed and whom no one likes, the boys
he ignores on the playground.

He doesn’t want to be like them,
spends our waiting time asking me
to give him words to spell on the big
blackboard, showing off, or else quiet
in his seat, patient, averting his eyes.

But when his sessions are over
he doesn’t want to leave,
wants to keep playing in the sand,
safe in the corner office down the hall,
talking to the one woman in the world
who knows all of his secrets,
the one woman who never yells at him,
doesn’t ever need time for herself.

He wants to be the boy who is so good
that his momentary lapses of perfection
are forgiven. The boy who is so sweet
that no one will ever leave him ever again.

He wants to be that boy.

I want to be his mom.

 

 

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