There is no better introduction to this poem than from the poet himself:
“It is a truism that the pace of modern life is frantic. The waiting
room is one place in the world where all of us at some point are
going to have to pause for a while, like it or not.
Whatever use we find for our normal franticness, it will not help us here.
Another feature of the waiting room is that for many of us it is a
place which reinforces our sense of essential powerlessness. It is
the antechamber of a system we have resorted to, in whose hands
we will be helpless, but whose powers we need. Our normal
routines and defences have proved insufficient. We are here to
some degree as supplicants.
Furthermore, it is an impersonal place. Not just a room full of
strangers, it is a room representing an organisation and a
discipline whose approach to the individual is likely to take little
account of him/her as a whole person, with a familiar name and a
unique history. The average health waiting room leads to a
surgery where you are likely to be addressed and treated in terms
of immediate presenting symptoms, of groupings, of categories.
So the waiting room is a profoundly democratic place. Like aging
and death, it levels us. It is a place of tension and anxiety but also
of human potential, in which people have a chance to reflect and
be enriched. And it’s a place that could do with the human touch.”
Might that “human touch” be a poem?
Across The Way
I have seen you
across the way
and salute you.
to place myself
in someone else’s hands
to place myself
in hands trained
to relieve me
hands to retrieve me
myself at sea.
I am sending
an SOS signal
from the eye
of my tempest
across the way.
From across the way
I salute you.