Private Room

The monitors read within normal limits
and she rested in the before when herons
escaped to the east ahead of biting wind
and cloud masses and farther out, on steam-
emitting ships, captains reported their positions
and the numbers of the lost and the saved
and posed questions for the scientists
and the rescue teams who checked their
charts and thick volumes in dim fluorescence
ashore.  O yes, she knew, babies born early
were incubated on the floor below.  Then
a warbling blue bird on a thin
limb, and boys with their small-caliber rifles,
and she pleaded O no, please don't,
and that boy, the new sailor, designated her
as the beneficiary of his Navy insurance
but she had him change that to his mother
and then the news: his loss in an Asian
sea.  (She feared drowning, the cold
of the relentless sea, and the stake and burning,
and the talons of beasts.)  She flattened
the pink rose from the sailor between sheets
of waxed paper in the heavy Bible
from the old country.  The old man knew
all the verses and he said Jonah never
rode in the slimy belly of a big fish but
got drunk in a squalid inn, talked to shadows.
Her sister had the D.T.'s too, and would forget,
and one summer she didn't answer her door
for a week, for ten days, and finally the ambulance
men carried her out of the cheap hotel in two
rubber bags. The monitors read normal,
and the children were late, and one machine
clicked like a railway clock.  Then
the cold moon and the stars of Orion's belt.


Copyright 2011,  Robin Lindley

Robin Lindley is a contributing writer for History News, and Real Change.  His poetry and illustrations have appeared in various periodicals.  He has undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Washington, and has worked as an attorney for government agencies and Congress, and as a law teacher and hearing examiner.  He was raised in Spokane, Washington, and now lives in Seattle with his wife Betsy.

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