In the waiting room

of the diagnostic imaging centre,

a new patient

takes a seat underneath a wall of notices.


“cover your cough”

“wash your hands”

“please switch off your mobile phone”


A ringtone sounds off duck quacks

as the receptionist cracks open a cola can

and checks her Facebook messages.


Gurneys, wheelchairs

and the walking wounded

jockey for space

in this orderly transfer station.


Frail or fit, young or old

they fill in forms,

sit tight,

engage in small talk,

skirt around unspoken fears.


Aquarium fish, coffee and puzzles distract.

They are momentary decoys,

drawing attention away

from what might be revealed

in the large white envelope

addressed to their physician.


High above this passage of people,

a television, with the sound on mute,

beams live footage from Indonesia

as two men, young and fit,

are relocated in the pre-dawn dark

to wait in the place of their pending execution.

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