Poem with an explanation: Tension


She sat inside the house,
on the sofa,
rocking her feet,
back and forth.

The time went slowly,

She knew the time,
she measured it,
1:45 pm,
20 minutes to drive,
20 minutes to get dressed,
10 minutes early,
10 minutes extra:
1:45 – – 12:45.

She sat,
the time went,
and early,
at 12:32,
the tension inside,
made her stand.

She focused on reality,
she focused on realism:
 all the lights were red,
 in her eyes.

At 1:17,
she stepped inside:

walls that seemed plastic,
chairs lined up,
and someone hiding behind glass.

In incoherence,
she explained,
and through the blur,
there was understanding.

She filled out the form,
that was filled out on the phone,
and sat.

She sat.

She sat.

Those who came after,
went before.

She sat.

She wanted to speak,
but thought,
“Why tell the tiger,
where you are?”

She sat.

A door,
a smile,
a name,
a routine – for half.

The lights were bright,
it all was muddled,
and then she heard


This poem is about a person going to the doctor’s office to find out what illness they have.  The poem’s topic is serious and so a free verse form was used.

The first four stanzas of the poem, focus on the person nervously waiting for the time to leave to go to the doctor.  She sits anxiously.  She watches the clock.  She meticulously calculated the time, and when the tension overcomes her, she leaves early.

As she drives to the doctor’s office, she tries to be calm, but her underlying tension, makes her feel like all the stop lights were red.  She has the sense of wanting to be there and not wanting to.  This is in the fifth stanza.

The next two stanzas describe her initial experience of walking into the office.  She notices the time – the exact time.  This is from her nervousness.  She notices the floor and the walls and the furniture.  In her perception, the receptionist is hiding.

Then, in the next stanza she tries to explain why she is there.  She may have rehearsed in her mind what to say as she thought about and lived the event in her mind beforehand.  Things get confused for her though, but she is able to communicate.

In the next stanza, she feels a sense of frustration.  She sits filling out a form, that has information that she gave to a person on the phone, when she made the appointment.

The next six stanzas focus on her waiting.  She consciously feels herself sitting as she waits for the doctor.

Then, in the next stanza, the door opens and a smiling nurse says her name.  This stanza expresses a dichotomy.  For the nurse, this is routine.  The nurse even tries to be pleasant.  For the woman in the poem, things feel unreal and uncertain.

The next stanza has the whole experience of the woman in the doctor’s office.  It describes it very vaguely in the first two lines.  This is meant to reflect how the woman would feel.  The stanza, and poem, ends with an answer, but not an answer.  The woman hears her diagnosis, but it is not explained to the reader.  The idea was to give the reader a small sense of uncertainty, so that they could relate to the woman in the poem.  There is no period at the end of the stanza, because it is not really an ending.