In the Hospital Cafeteria

7:50 AM

The woman with the gap between her teeth clears away the dirty trays, empties the trash cans, and smiles as she greets everyone she sees by their first name.

The beautiful people filter through in flocks for their morning coffee. The residents complain about having to rewrite their CVs. The med students ask each other how many points the exam will be worth. All of them have perfect haircuts.

The man who shepherds his two young sons in front of him walks as if in a dream. I cannot tell from his face if his wife is about to have their third, or if she is sick, or worse.

And sitting in the corner, a solemn man in a baseball cap, with craggy skin and work-worn hands, reads his pastel brochure — “Chemotherapy & You” — page by lonely page.