Fiona Sinclair's 'Quiet Room'

The quiet room
You wince under the waits’ added load.
Squashed seating arrangements anticipate
breasts squeezed into scanners.
We are blind to fresh flowers, pastel curtains and carpets.
Receptionists and nurses maintain the default cheeriness
of shopping channel presenters but
fear runs amok amongst us
strangling our instinct to chat.
The pages of ‘Hello’ are turned with shaking hands,
eyes skim bikini clad celebs,
whilst we strain for a bustling nurse to pop her head
around the door and sing your name.
A girl in Sainsbury’s uniform nuzzles
her boyfriend’s shoulder.
It must be confusing for men,
this switch from ‘Carry On’ fondling to
reluctantly tracing a lump insidious as an IED.
Afterwards, we watch other women liberated by
‘Every thing’s fine you can go’
But for one woman, the nurse in sotto voce voice,
‘Would you come through to the quiet room?’
My eyes meet yours,
we remember boxes of tissues and the private exit.
15 minutes trudge by.
‘For God’s sake’
You re-cross legs, switching your coat about you,
I sit with every muscle clenched.
Discharged suddenly, we scurry from the building, high on relief.
I slam the car door on the nurse with the valium voice
and her open invitation for me to join her in ‘that room’.

*Fiona Sinclair's Dirty Laundry is published by Koo Press.  She is a regular reviewer for IS&T.

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