Sixes and 12’s

I wrote a small poem almost four years ago while waiting in the hospital. I recently found this and wanted to share it. I hope it means as much to you as it did to me.

The story is posted here and also below.

Sixes and 12’s

Why are we here?

We’ve been waiting so long. We both forgot.

What did we forget? The time? What we were doing? What we were waiting for?

There’s a sound beyond the door. The doctor? We listen, holding our breaths.

Another door opens. Not ours. Not for us.

The entire hospital waits. Machines wait for the next heartbeat. The clock waits for the next second. Each heartbeat reminds us the doctor hasn’t come.

Except for that one person being seen, we all wait.

Another 30 minutes. 30 minutes since the 6 on the clock.

Now the 12.

I’ve memorized every detail of the room. The number of ceiling tiles. The phone numbers on the door. The medical gas connection labels on the wall. Cartoon diagrams on the sides of the bed. The sound of your heartbeat through a machine.

I look at the readouts. 30 more minutes pass.

Voices in the hallway. The doctor is here.

They pass our door. No. Have to wait again.

Another slice of time.

Our room is a time machine. The world goes fast. Then time slows.

Time is relative, indeed. Too fast when we are late. Too slow once we’re there. Lightspeed when we’re having fun. The universe halts when we’re in sorrow. 

Footsteps again. Our door finally opens. The nurse. No doctor.

No doctor?

“He’s coming. I’m sorry we keep saying that.”

We’re not upset. We understand. Truly.

Another 30 minutes. 6 and 12 become evil numbers as each comes and goes on the clock. Our world in 30-minute increments. Strange half hours. Never ending sixes and twelves.

6’s and 12’s. Sixes and twelves. 6’s and 12’s.

Our heartbeat. Your heartbeat.

The ticking clock.

Six.

Twelve.

A shadow under the door. Someone pushing a cart. They go by. Not for us.

When will they come?

One minute before 12. If I count along, will it go faster? Will I satisfy time? Does time want me to acknowledge it? To acknowledge what it’s doing to us?

Will time tell the doctor he’s late? We know he’s late. Time knows he’s late.

But does he

Does he, looking at the same time somewhere else, know he’s at least 6 cycles of 12 and 6 late?

Not our time.

What about our time? Did time see us differently? Did time not see us as important as anyone else?

Anything else?

The world goes on beyond our room. People see their friends. Have fast conversations. Some have slow ones. Others go to work. Meet at a cafe. Take a walk.

We stay. We remain. In waiting.

Six. 12.

12. Six.

Why are we here?

Six.

Are the other rooms time machines too? A time machine doesn’t have to move one through time. It can stop it. That is time travel: not traveling at all while the world travels on without you. If that was happening now, would I know it?

Twelve.

6.

The doctor finally comes. We need him. He’s here. He says something strange. “You aren’t ready.”

How are we not? We’ve been waiting.

“You aren’t ready.”

Time goes on. He leaves.

Twelve.

My expectations are unrealistic. How could one person satisfy the time of all?

Six. 12.

That was then. What happens now between the sixes and twelves?

With smiles, we watch you grow.

Between the 6’s and 12’s.

On to six, then six to twelve. We count the days, months, and years as you grow.

Time counts as well.

Between the sixes and twelves.

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