Doctor’s office again.
Sitting with right leg resting on left knee,
I hold a book of poetry in my hands,
though my eyes are mostly closed.
I am not tired, just idly pondering
what’s for lunch when I return home.
In the corner of the waiting room, a television screen
features a travelogue about Glacier National Park.
A disembodied male voice is calmly narrating
how the glaciers there are rapidly vanishing.
As if he is taking us into his confidence,
he softly announces, “They’re almost gone.”
When we entered the medical building,
we paused and watched several huge air tankers
criss-crossing a perfectly crisp blue autumn sky
with row after row of fat white trails, creating
an eerie panoramic checkerboard effect.
People came and went but none looked up,
nor do many notice that all around town
the tall fir trees are dying en masse.
Somehow everybody knows, but still pretends
that everything is OK, because they have to.
In the waiting room, half a dozen patients
are busily tapping their devices, scrolling through
their messages, sometimes smiling, sometimes huffing,
sometimes absently raising their gaze to observe
the last of the glaciers fading on the TV screen.
People refuse to look around at each other,
maybe they’re ashamed of what we’ve all done.
An older woman watches a younger one take a seat
and begin devouring a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
When she can no longer hold herself back,
she clears her throat and loudly informs the eager diner,
“When I was pregnant, I ate everything in sight!”
Now a mother uses her device to snap some photos
of her young child, then turns the miniature screen
to the boy’s face and says “Look, this is you!”
The boy responds defiantly, “No, it’s not me!”
When we finally leave the building, the late-morning sky
is patched and clouded over with an artificial haze,
but the tankers keep stitching their toxic spray
back and forth over our little mountain town —
it seems they must be desperate.
From the parking lot, a man approaches and,
noticing us looking at the devastated sky,
chuckles and sighs as he passes by:
“Sure, they’re just contrails!”