Under Fluorescent Lighting

Emma Casey


It’s getting a call at 2 AM that I remember.

A parking valet looking at my stick-shift like it’s

            a spaceship,

red-shined windbreaker swishing past me.


He’ll stall when I pass through sliding doors.


I remember a nurse’s perfect white sneakers,

squeaky soles on too-clean floors.

Her pink scrubs glow

            under fluorescent lights,

a noxious pattern of hippos playing



Monet washes the walls with fake smiles,


that’s what I remember at least.

I place sticky hands on a counter




I remember I ask for directions to Room 819.


Sick sweat and disinfectant.  Two smells that seize

your throat by the uvula and stick there.

I remember swallowing repeatedly

as I follow

            little giraffes and purple elephants

that fail to hide the stench of death

                                                of baby sickness

                                                            of children giving up



She calls me Mommy accidentally when she sees me by the door

I remember.


The hospital guest chairs look worse than my own

chapped lips.  Cracked with leaking fuzz.

My dry legs stick to the plastic.

The hippos bring me coffee.


The nurse brings me coffee.


Everyone knows things taste better

at 2 AM.  I remember.



My pelvis aches as I sit in the chair,

holding her IV-anchored hand.  I forgot my meds

in my rush out the door.

There’s a bubble of skin by the needle

of her anchor.

She watches cartoons about magical faeries,

not thinking that Mommy

                        and Daddy

aren’t coming, too occupied with work and

their Life.  I think for her.


We sit alone and wait for soft warmth

to slink through the window towards us.

I remember.