A Poem Dedicated to the Medically Underserved
She sits in the waiting room;
In a corner she waits to be called.
I notice her as I walk into the office.
I know her face;
This is the first time I know her as a patient.
I catch a glimpse of her sitting in her chair
Holding the tattered, yellow envelope.
I know the contents of the envelope too well;
I have witnessed many patients holding the same folder.
Proof of need you could call it;
Paycheck stubs, food stamp letters, letters of assistance
All neatly combined and organized into the yellow, tattered envelope.
She is my next patient.
I walk out into the waiting room and cheerfully call her name.
She stands with difficulty.
Stiff from years of hard work and little care, she follows me into the cubical.
I ask her to sit down.
I ask her for her name again, and she tells me.
Funny thing about a name,
When you know someone's name they somehow become a person.
Their image is somehow imprinted on the brain.
Now when I see her walking down the street,
She will be known to me because I will know her name.
The questions begin.
I ask for proof of income and the she opens the tattered, yellow envelope.
She hands the folded paycheck stubs to me and apologizes for the amount she has earned.
"They cut my hours," she says. Her head bent in shame.
Her reaction kindles anger inside of me.
Like this is her fault.
She is a human being and deserves better.
I smile and take the papers from her.
We finish and I tell her that she is eligible for six more months of care.
She is happy with relief.
I smile and send her on her way.
I walk out into the waiting room and see her sitting in the corner,
holding a yellow, tattered envelope.
I call her name.
The cycle continues.