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Poem: Shuttle to Mayo Clinic

February 6, 2019 GMT

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.