The door slams shut with a loud bang.
We left all our belongings secured at the entrance.
From whom? Them? Or us?
Burly guards, made bigger still by Kevlar vests,
Open doors to let even more walking wounded in.
It seems no one ever leaves.
You sit and wait, quietly cataloging the others.
It’s hard not to notice the transvestite explaining the best way to slit someone,
Or the shivering girl with the tears streaming down her face.
People wrapped in thin hospital blankets wander around like a strange cult
Or lay like cloaked cadavers on couches.
A boy and his dad cheer on the ballgame
While they systematically snack through the vending machine.
They both agree to avoid row 4 – the “healthy “ food.
The game is long over as they sit still waiting for a room.
The boy’s hands are spotless as he repeatedly cleans them
And bobs his head to a tune only he can hear.
A young man dressed nattily in a prep school uniform
Sporting reform school initials
Is stealthily watched by his two male companions.
A young woman boldly tells her tale for all to hear
Of homelessness, drug abuse and repeated incarcerations,
Until the nausea of her last hit quiets her.
It’s late when two young teens shuffle in with their parents,
One black and one white.
It’s surely past their bedtime.
A girl too fragile to speak above a whisper is no longer there.
Although no one is conversing, the group starts to bond with hope
As we realize that the hippie couple is also getting ready to leave.
It’s tomorrow before we are escorted to the doors.
We gather our baggage as we slip out into the clean night air.
Nothing resolved but too exhausted now to care.