I hold my own hand in the hospital bed and it feels like my house keys, sun streaking my window with her thousand fingerprints. It is morning and while the rest of the world shuts down businesses, closes schools, and cancels church services, here at the hospital breakfast still arrives at eight thirty. I still step on the scale backwards at seven and get my IV bag replaced at five. My nurse, with eyes red and swirling as NBC night news over the mask the attending handed her on her way in this morning, it wasn’t required yesterday, still tells me that food is my medicine, and when I stir my granola and yogurt with a bent spoon, I eat the shame too, thick and clotted like the cream at the top of the cup, chew and swallow and almost choke on bites of shame that I am safe.
Outside, across the cul-de-sac, where the emergency room looms, magazine mothers scurry, masked, infants loud as advertisements. Inside, trays dotted dark with jell-o swarm the hallways while my nurse turns off the news, says I don’t need to see, and I look away, I do, down from the window at the empty, decaffeinated street, and while I am sobbing over a ham sandwich on rye, spearing wildly with my plastic spork, another girl on another floor of the hospital is sobbing over a Styrofoam cup of hospital coffee while she waits for her father’s test results to come back, tears soaking through her paper mask and I think about her, maybe Maria, without a last name, but dinner still ends at six thirty, same as always so I keep my eyes on the clock.
Laura Ingram is a tiny girl with big glasses and bigger ideas. Her poetry and prose have been published in over seventy literary journals, among them The Cactus Heart Review, Gravel, Glass Kite Anthology and Voice of Eve. Her second poetry collection, Mirabilis, is forthcoming for 2020 with Kelsay Books. Her first collection, Junior Citizen's Discount, was released with Desert Willow Press May 2018; her children's book Stand Up Was subsequently released with Nesting Tree Books (August 2018). Laura loves Harry Potter and Harry Styles. She is an undergraduate creative writing student.