Julie Herrick White



What did he want,

smoking cigarettes and drinking tea,

a stranger sitting in a chair watching us?


People were talking in the room.

My mother was walking in and out.

Two men arrived to repossess

my refrigerator. The stranger watched

and listened. It made me think of a man

I had read about in a vegetative state

who had been mysteriously awakened

by a tranquilizer.


Two men were ready to repossess

my refrigerator. This is nothing but

a piece of junk, one said to me,

and I looked to the stranger, this man,

smoking cigarettes and drinking tea.

Come and sit down, he said, and together

we watched them carry out my refrigerator

and we looked at the empty space

it had made.


In the story of the man in the vegetative

state, he had been given a tranquilizer

by the dentist to ease his pain.


The stranger looked at me. I like it here,

he said. I would like to stay here with you.


I remember in the story of the man,

he had awakened fully and spoken to his

friends for a few hours, but then

relapsed slowly into his former state.


I watched the stranger finish his cigarette

and saw that something was happening already.

I would like to stay, he said to me. I would

really like to stay.

Copyright 2003 Julie Herrick White.  All Rights Reserved.

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