In the Pod

Mary Dowd, MD

Fall 2008 - Volume 12 Number 4

The door clangs shut.

All eyes turn toward the diversion.

The nurse and I walk in,

two little female sticks,

bobbing in a sea of men.


The room is large, but small,

dimly lit, swarming

with elbows, feet, faces

dozens of men

in orange scrubs

talking, joking

shoving, pushing

pacing, roaming.


The ceiling is high, but low,

from two tiers up

it presses down on me,

filled with a gray-brown cloud,


of something nameless,

edgy, hostile

and immeasurably sad.


I feel the stares

of men looking,

and not looking at me

wanting contact, conversation,

attention, sympathy,



anything at all


so much wanting

I feel it pressing in

squeezing me

bruising me like thumbprints,

collapsing me.


I shut down all my doors and windows

and focus on a spot across the room

where a thin bar of sunlight

filters through barbed wire

to light a concrete court.


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