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If my life is a bus station waiting room,
then you are the passengers who moved in and never left.
Like hundreds of others, you wandered in one day,
intending to move on to the next destination.
Your bags were packed. You had an itinerary.
You had places to go. People to see.
You filtered through the waiting room doors alone or in pairs,
nervous like we all are in public spaces.
Double-checking our departure time, to make sure we get out in time.
Wondering if we have time to get our sweater out of the car
because it’s so frigid in this room.
We all sat down in the same area and started to unpack our bags.

Rebecca’s shoes came out first.
So I unpacked Jack’s hat, a tiny blue and white thing.

It’s hard to describe what happened there.
Strangers in a room together,
just passing through.
But something happened.
Like survivors of a trauma, a bank robbery, a bombing, a plane crash,
we were bound together.
Our travel journeys crisscrossed and linked from then on.
Only the traumas happened outside—long before.
It was in the waiting room that we recognized a traveler on our same route,
carrying luggage like our own.
and realized we needed each other to find the way forward.

Meet back here in six months, someone said.
Bring snacks and a sweater
and fourteen daffodils
and we’ll unpack our bags again.
We’ll write about our children
the perfume of peonies
the delicate scent of cosmos
empty rooms
broken dishes
footprints on our chests, and
fallen stars.

It’s fourteen years later and we are still stumbling into waiting rooms together.
We’ve upgraded to first class this time.
The snacks are better.
But we are still forgetting sweaters,
and still rummaging around in our baggage for what to share.
We can still pull out something precious and painful,
and our travel companions nod and knit
and bring us a cup of waiting room coffee.

Click here to read Marge Piercy’s poem”The Visible and the In-“,  that served as a prompt.

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