She appears defeated, like the shivering sky

draped in soggy grey clouds, the sun

retreating to happier grounds.

Her body succumbed to the metal chair,

she lifts her small liver-spotted right hand,

folded and wrapped in a splint with thick foam bands,

and places it on the Formica table.

Slowly, sighing, sinking, she works at the prickling Velcro tabs until

her formless hand is released. Watching her stronger fingers

straighten the limp bent ones, she seems to be preoccupied

with a time beyond the room

of bands, braces, pulleys, and balls.

While the therapist chatters

about cell phones, pansies, and her son in the Navy,

the patient, weary already with the day, turns her flaccid hand

this way and that.


It seems the chilled murky fog

settled in her brain, and the rain just keeps falling.

The stiff chair with plastic padded armrests offers no comfort,

and her dowdy blue nylon jacket gives no warmth

in the sterile room of fluorescent brightness and gleaming steel.

The afternoon looms before her, taunting

waves of boredom of the long winter ahead.

With her good hand, she presses her rumpled blouse over her belly,

ignoring a missing button.

The perky therapist with fresh coral lipstick,

matching nail polish, and white toothy smile

pats the patient’s slumped shoulder,

“How are we feeling today, Mary?”


Gazing at freckles splattered among roaming age spots

on the graying flesh of her lame hand,

Mary smiles, allowing creased lines to lift her sagging face,

“I’m s’posin’ the rain’s goin’ to stop this afternoon,

and the sun’ll be out.

Tomorrow’ll be a better day.”