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Waiting, a poem by Nancy Botkin


We all do it. In the airport. In line
at the grocery store. We wait
for the swelling to subside, the guest
to leave, the antibiotics to kick in.
Endless waiting in doctors’ offices.
The outer one, but also the inner one
where you sit in a flimsy flowered gown.
Not to mention the nervous wait
for the biopsy report. I once rolled out
cookie dough, set the over timer, and then
moved out of range so I couldn’t hear it.
When I finally came back in, the buzzer
became an alarm. Kids used to pull
the fire alarm in high school, and we knew
the drill: file outside and wait in the cold
for the all clear. You often hear someone
say those five minutes were an eternity!
How much time is wasted waiting for Christmas
or summer vacation, only to be let down.
Forget about prince charming meeting you
by the pool, the one who also kept you
waiting by the phone. Daisy Buchanan waited
for the longest day of the year and then missed it.
Who hasn’t waited for the chance to say,
“Why don’t you take a flying leap, fella!”
and then chickened out. There’s only so much
waiting for breasts one can do. This is often done
at the window staring at a full moon.
And then there’s walking the baby behind
a similar window under the same moon.
And speaking of babies, where
were you before you were born?
Now there’s a long wait.
Think about not existing.
We all do it.

Nancy Botkin's poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. The Honeycomb won the 2022 chapbook prize at Steel Toe Books. Her latest full-length collection, The Next Infinity was published by Broadstone Books in 2019. She is a retired Senior Lecturer at Indiana University South Bend.