my four-year old hands folded
on my lap. I wait. We all wait
alone in our pain: four, five,
eight year olds. My gaze glued
to the door of the vast children’s
ward – tall beige walls, dark grey
tiled floors, windows fogged with
years of dust and grime, and sorrow.
On the white sheets I sit,
in the Hospital de Niños, frail
and dark. I wait for my mother,
for my father. We all wait.
A nun washes my face, combs
my hair. Makes me pray. No
breakfast for you today she says
and moves on to the black-haired
girl next to me, still asleep.
But, before mom and dad arrive,
two burly orderlies wheel me
down the hallway. Where are
we going? I ask in my small, brave voice.
In the O.R. the nurse
covers my face with a mask.
What is this? I ask again.
I don’t hear the answer.