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April 15, 2024

A Little Music

By Tony Gloeggler

A Little Music

Abby your technician
for today's treatment hums
a gospel song as she sticks
the needles in the crook
of your elbow, attaches you,
the tubes, to the dialysis
machine and sets it
for three and a half hours
when the floor nurse walks by,
squeezes her shoulder and offers
her condolences, starts whispering
about her son's memorial day.
How long has it been, she asks,
and Abby says she's just trying
to make it through the shift
and not think too much.
Hopefully, she can reach
the cemetery before it closes,
stop at the florist in time to buy
fresh flowers. You lie there
wondering if you should say
something, try to express
how sorry you feel for her
or whether this was something
she wouldn't want you
to know, something she wishes
you never overheard. You roll
the front of your wool hat
over your eyes, fit headphones
over your ears and hope
to drop off to sleep. You wonder
what happened to her son
and you leaf through newspaper
headlines: shot by a white cop
in a store front robbery,
a gang member's stray bullet
from the back seat of a car,
a roof top sniper shooting
a raw recruit in an unwinnable
war, an infant smothered
in his sleep. Always, too young
to die. When you open
your eyes, Abby is punching
buttons on the computer
next to you checking blood
pressure, iron and water levels.
You press the pause button,
hear she is humming
the same song. She apologizes
for making too much noise
and waking you. She talks
about a few years ago when soft
jazz played through the speakers
until a few patients complained.
She points them out, names
names and you feel relieved,
knowing you would never
be on that list. You know,
she says, a little music
makes the day go faster,
smoother. You grab
your I Pod, nod and wave
for her to lean closer.
You lift the headphones
off your head, hand them to her.
Carefully, she nestles them
on the top of her new hairdo,
fits them over her ears.
You press the button. Bemsha
Swings. She closes her eyes
and her head sways, gently,
like a flower with morning
mist lifting from her eyes.

Article © Tony Gloeggler. All rights reserved.
Published on 2017-03-20
Image(s) are public domain.
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