The Eighth Floor

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Down the bright hallway, behind the double
doors, she hoped to find the large cart full
of clean linens. A top and bottom sheet,
pillow case, two blankets, likely stained.
Towels. Please, towels. Thin and far too
small to be practical, but please, towels.
It had become routine: Her daughter’s
admission to a room, then her determined forage
for linens to cover a sleep chair. Please,

a room with a sleep chair. A sleep chair, unbroken.
She’d wake at 5:30 before the doctors would round,
before the other parents usual woke, so she could
slip uncontested into the shared bathroom down the hall.
Standing in the shower’s anemic flow, quickly washing
her hair, scrubbing away the scent of latex and dejection,
she formulated her questions, restrained them to topics
with faultless answers — would her child need
another blood transfusion today, a dosage

increase, extubation? She knew better than
to utter, or ponder, the crucial questions –

When will we ever again feel
the sand against our soles?
How can we manage without light?

October 2013
Julie Ayers

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