We who are turned away from the star
There’s no one here like the girl in Tarkovsky’s Stalker,
left awake in the clear morning after night’s watch.
Here, today, everyone is old, floating on feeble cheerfulness,
the relief or reprieve from their own watch,
in the hands now of nurses watched over by doctors,
nothing to do but sit back in the drip drip drip.
The young RN seems out of place here, cherubic, unreal.
She loves her job, she says, inserting a tube.
To which the reply: Job security. She reaches for,
Hopefully one day that will not be the case,
as if she wished to lose the job so loved.
But age is not really the determining factor.
It’s the impossibility of imagining anyone here moving a glass.
Whatever reserves exist remain hidden.
The visible world rules here: the dull look in the eye,
the sagging skin, row upon row of recliners.
It’s a waiting room for Hell
with a soundtrack of beeps
signaling air bubbles or completion
on repeat in the antiseptic room
locked out from that sound
long gone from the station.