Red Chair All Along

I turned away,
stood up from my seat and stepped forward to the counter –
my name was called.
I turned back and looked over my shoulder
at the empty plastic chair where you once sat,
at the bench, all of us waiting,
waiting for our turn.

You’re not here today. you have not been here for many days now.
Sometimes I come here and sit,
and wait for my turn.
Sometimes it isn’t even my turn.
I look back from the counter, at the chairs.
It is like watching time pass by,
watching people sit down, get up, leave, come back,
and all over again.
I watch person after person come and go;
the chairs fill up, empty; shutters close, and open again.

The cold winter comes, and then a new summer.
Right here. I think to myself that, when you’re here, I’m not here.
and vice versa.
I believe, that you were here.
That is why I come back.
These chairs, these walls with their fading paint and
the posters that go up, and come down.
It is in this,
this waiting room,
that we pass our time,
that we come to wait.
There is no train here – it is a clinic.
What are we waiting for?
There is no doctor,
and there is no medication to be taken.
What there is,
is a clock on the wall.
You can see it, you can see the time pass.
But you can’t count it in any measurable way.
After all the clock hands go round and round,
day after day.
How can you tell what year is it?
Is it New Year’s or Christmas
July or March.
All you can tell is that, the chairs,
they grow old as well.
Because they get scratched they start to sag a little where,
I’ve sat in it for a long time.
Where I lean my back, and put my head against the wall.
Somebody asked me why am I here,
why do I still come back here.
This place, doesn’t have anything for me anymore.
I shouldn’t come.
I should go somewhere new.
But I look at him and he knows,
he knows that it is difficult to leave,
that part of me wants to,
and there’s part of me that can’t.
It’s like, I can’t break off the last touch,
like how when I lift my hand off the chair,
I linger my fingers a moment longer,
I can feel the grain,
I can feel the weathered surfaces,
full of time, and memories and history,
memories of how you used to sit there,
in the other chair just over there.
I think I can still remember,
still remember you, in my mind,
picture you,
even if it might not be a photographic memory
even if I might be hard pressed to draw out your eyes or your nose
or the correct colour of your hair.
but even the splotches of paint would resemble you,
and in there I can see you,
when I close my eyes
when i look back into the recesses of my mind,
I can imagine you there.
Sometimes you talk to me
or I talk to myself;
Sometimes I ask you questions
in my mind
You don’t always have answers.
Neither do I.

One day, perhaps,
perhaps when they say that the stars are in alignment
and the time is right.
i will chance upon you again.
and i think it will be here,
and maybe,
I will walk in and you will be sitting there,
as if you have always sat there,
all along.

Red Chair All Along

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