his voice bounces around
the hardwooded waiting room
one of those attention-getting voices,
or maybe it’s just the plexiglass amplification
thanks to new-normal COVID barriers
anyway, we learn a few things

Donny took Eugene to Lexington
he laughs at how they have to travel him,
nuisance implied
then, a few choice moments with the F word
including about how he don’t need no permission
from his insurance company to go to the doctor
(we can all agree with that one)
we learned, too, the location of a dialysis building
son, that big ol’ industrial park’s back there,
cause he took someone – or a dog – back behind it to pee,
lots of berries or old rose bushes (he wasn’t sure)
yeah, you use sugar and gelatin
(they must be talking cobbler now)
oh yeah, he was just one big rash, an allergy,
according to the pediatrician
shit, you got egg in lots of things, mayonnaise

we’re spared any more
once the nurse appears, calls his name
I’m sure I’m not the only one relieved
despite the fact,
we were just getting into this
party-line conversation
and I think, who’s privacy is whose here?
maybe privacy is a new thing,
I mean, holler life has never been isolated
we all know all
who’s hurting who, who’s kissing who,
who’s nice, who’s mean as a striped snake,
genealogy by telephone and church social
maybe we’re accustomed to prudish,
and now that we’re our in the techno world
we should talk more, out loud
phone our family more, any time anywhere
and not suffer death in social norms
like this silent waiting room

so, I can’t blame Haywood – that’s what the nurse called him
he’s an honored tradition here,
perhaps a new one,
and I realize now, secretly,
I love it