poetry

When We Can Do Nothing Else, We Wait. {poetry}

 

I wrote this poem as I waited for my dad’s surgery to be done. I’m sharing it here as I wait for him to wake up in the ICU.

The surgery has been successful, but the risk continues to be there because of his age and his other health conditions. I watch him wince in his sleep due to the excruciating pain. Pain is a small word when you’ve been under the knife.

This poem is for all those who have waited at some point in life. You know what you went through as you waited for the minutes and hours to pass. And though you told yourself that you had no control over what would happen and that fretting was a waste, you couldn’t help but fret. The current times have tested our ability to wait, adults and children alike.

We wait for the world to go back to normal, to be able to meet and greet each other like old times, for schools to start, to be able to breathe freely, to travel to family without the fear of spreading the virus, to live again. As Charles Stanley said, “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on what we’re waiting for.” And when we can do nothing else, we pray, believe, wait.

***

The waiting
is the worst.
Have you seen a farmer look up at the sky
hoping and praying
for the heavens to pour?
Endless possibilities —
Will the seeds sprout, will the saplings grow
and flower, and will his hard work bear fruit?
He must wait

How much faith must you have, how much
courage to live like that, to choose a life
where the waiting is certain
minutes crawl like hours
and you have no idea what to do
or think or say
As each second drags into another
and all you must do
can do
is wait

Like the night before the results
of an exam or a job interview
or the execution of a project, a plan or a conspiracy —
it all seems so important
like your life depends on it
until it really does
like when you’re waiting for the result
of a CT scan, a biopsy or outside the ICU

What do you tell yourself?
In the interim
during the waiting
what do you think to make it easier?
When I was younger, my father would quote,
“Que sera sera, whatever will be will be,
The future’s not ours to see.”
I’d heard it so often, it played in my head
I could even hear him chuckle as he said it
I could see the twinkle in his eye

But not today —
Today, a new set of words play in my head
“His condition can go south.”
I watch him on the hospital bed — no chuckle
no twinkle. He’s barely there.
We have a few hours before tomorrow
to say the things we kept for the last
I try
but he can’t hear me, he looks around
impatient, angry that he must wait until tomorrow

I wait.
For waiting is all I can do
The waiting —
it is the worst.

***

Smitha Vishwanath is a banker-turned-writer and a management professional, who embarked on the writing journey in 2016 with her blog, while still heading the regional cards operations of a bank. After having worked for almost two decades in senior roles in the banking industry in the Middle East, she quit and moved to Mumbai, India in July 2018 with her husband and two daughters. In July 2018, she co-authored Roads: A Journey with Verses, a book of poetry. Other than writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, painting, and going on long nature walks. Her work has been published in SpillWords, Rebelle Society, Borderless Journal and other magazines.

***

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