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The Waiting Room

by Ellen Herman Campbell

Inspiration image

I, too, sit in “the company of wayward saints,”
pilgrims on a shared journey
detoured from ordinary lives to gather,
waiting to radiate broken cells
in our bodies.

A farmwoman with soft silver hair
and hard browned arms,
no stranger to early morning chores,
drives miles to don her gown and speak
of bulls, fences, and the cheese she makes to sell.

A devoted family crowds close together,
hunched over a jigsaw puzzle,
their diversion for the day of girding
with love their father, husband, grandfather,
his heart stout and sturdy, his head do-rag-covered.

A pastor, our weekly staple, offers
a seasoned smile and a worn Bible,
welcoming new arrivals and encouraging regulars,
regaling the room with stories of
schoolchildren, grilled turkey, church suppers, and faith.

A professional woman
tapping stylish toes, heels perfectly
coordinated with a skirt so ill-suited
to the shapeless cover-up she soon unwraps to
reveal flesh marked for healing.

A quiet couple settles side-by-side,
arms fused, legs a matched pair,
united in one effort to
fight the diagnosis that
permeates the air surrounding us all.

An egalitarian director heedless of age, sex, or race, our disease
convenes us, and we enact our daily scene, undeterred,
sharing space, story, joy, laughter, and
the fierce determination of life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Ellen Campbell is a breast cancer survivor living in State College, PA.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, March/April 2008.