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The Terminal


It seems like we’ve been
waiting here forever,
but the train has finally come.
You sit awkwardly beside me, sleeping,
troubled in your dreams,
a fitful moment of rest after another wearying day.

This cavernous, echoing room seems quiet,
deserted at this late hour
except for your constant presence;
the dull humming and beeping of machines
long ago ceased to disturb us;
the flashing lights no longer seem significant.

I wish that I could wake you,
tell you that I’m going,
take you back to a time by the lake, or the carnival –
anywhere but here.
You shift in your seat and smile,
living a rare moment of peace in your dreams.

Our shared past never prepared us for this,
watching me become weaker and weaker,
shedding baggage until only 88 pounds remain.
I had everything I needed when we first arrived,
but there has been less and less left of me
with each passing moment.

And now the wait is over, for both of us.
I board the train,
watching down upon you from the steps.
The beeping of the machines becomes one steady tone,
and you wake abruptly as attendants and staff push past.
“ I’m sorry,” one speaks, “but he’s gone.”


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The Terminal, by Paul Cales, © December 2003