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A time like all others
  1. C Gardner
  1. Correspondence to C Gardner, 58 Highland St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; gardner.caleb{at}

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Clear midday summer sunlight

comes in through the lowered Venetian blinds

and, once inside, mixes with the scattered

fluorescent ceiling lights of the waiting room

where I’ve been looking at the covers

of the magazines lying on the table,

not doing the work in the backpack at my feet.

Whether you’re aware of it at the time or not,

what always feels most distinctive about hospitals,

I think, is how similar they are to other buildings,

how unexceptional the other patients and nurses

and doctors are, how ordinary disease is,

while, around the corner behind the reception desk

or through the swinging doors at the end

of an unmarked hallway you didn’t take,

there are things you know nothing about.

Unimaginable pain and hardship, of course,

but, perhaps, also hints of happiness,

probably not encountered today or tomorrow,

but eventually, at a time, like all others,

you can’t move toward, or away from.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.