Poem: Shuttle to Mayo Clinic
We began to gather haphazardly,
trickling into the hotel lobby,
laughing and regaling conquests of youth,
dialogues of what constitutes beauty and even ...
one tale of a missed opportunity of a fireplace tryst.
The chatter is loud and lively
even festive in its feel and energy.
Then the shuttle arrives.
The bus driver enters to summon
riders … “Mayo Clinic! Gonda, Saint Marys and The Methodist!”
Like schoolmates, rushing towards a field trip bus ride,
we hustle towards our transport
announcing imaginary claims of preferred seat locations.
Conversations continue to center around
insignificant matters that now seem salient.
Still the laughter and the volume continues,
perhaps even escalates.
As we pull away from the hotel roundabout
I notice a sparrow losing its race with us
outside my window.
To my left, a husband sits
frail and gaunt, talking of hotel waffles.
His wife, smiling and nodding yes, strangles a rosary
while nervously checking and rechecking
the “snap clasp” of her purse with Tourette-like precision.
As if in quicksand, she sinks into her anxiety
as it envelops her calm.
In front of me, lovers question the futility
of having their grandkids put away cell phones
at the supper table.
Each person speaks a narrative
that is loud and playful
and filled with false bravado.
Because with each city block
that our private transit claims,
the sound of its riders diminishes
Like the shadow of a cloud
moving across a lily field
on a sunny day,
one by one, each rider succumbs to the quiet.
With each street the bus crosses,
another rider is silenced.
Until, two blocks away from the hospital
we abdicate to stillness.
Not of movement but of sound.
The reality of the reason we are here
is upon us.
The bus to the Mayo Cancer Clinic
is now silent.