Liz Quirke – Waiting Room


There is a room wide as a football pitch
and narrow as a cupboard.

Off to one side, a low table bears lever arch folders
a person can thumb through, photographs of babies,
twins in pink onesies, little navy jumpers,
with some teeth and no teeth,
with newborn down on tops of heads or first wisps.

There is a waiting room wide as a football pitch,
narrow as a cupboard, where people sit quietly,

clutch soft plastic cups of ice cold water,
where chairs are a decent size and spaced
so couples don’t have to touch each other
unless they want to.

There is a waiting room with a projector screen
at one end, large as a feature window, explaining

through vibrant graphics to the people sitting quietly,
people who have more than likely researched
the building and its occupants
to floorboard detail, what will happen
in treatment rooms they haven’t seen yet.

There is a room, where people sit quietly, wait
in twos or ones as though all conversation led them there

but finished earlier in the carpark, or exhausted itself
the evening before over pots of tea, when talk pushed
into the night about cycles, hormones, injections,
whispers of what they would bargain to know
the feeling of their baby’s foot between their fingers.

There is a waiting room, silent
but for shoes shuffling on matte carpet, quiet

but for the hum of the water cooler,
the crisp diction of the volume controlled radio,
pop songs by girls promising
something new, crooning with sentiment
about an abstract forever, never to know
how their voice hangs over people who can only wait

for their names to be called
by the woman in scrubs with the clipboard.