Sunday, March 5, 2017

Tanka Prose


Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap … Sturdy, manicured nails striking keys. So far, she's asked me three questions to do with my personal information—basically, if it's still correct. "Yes, Yes, Yes," I've responded. The tapping goes on interminably. Why, I have no idea. Elbow on desk, I rest my chin in my palm.
tick tick tick
who am I anyway?
the most I do
in this sterile space
is take a few more breaths
Then more questions—what's a good emergency contact number, if I have a living will, who my next of kin is—the same questions I've been asked a multitude of times before, followed by more tap-tapping on the keyboard. And eventually, she generates a thin plastic wristband to ID me during my brief stay, a stack of papers I must initial and sign (including one reminding me this is a smoke-free facility), and a stapled document I'm supposed to take home (a candidate for the shredder).

Twelve minutes of my life, gone. Not to mention the eighteen or nineteen minutes of wait time beforehand. To think I'm here only for a routine procedure.
painted the color
of the sea ...
deeper, deeper my feet
in imaginary sand

Contemporary Haibun OnlineJanuary 2017, vol. 12, no. 4


  1. Shivers. Sounds like a very long 12, and 18, minutes. I especially like that escape at the end. Hope you are healthy, friend!

  2. This is wonderful, Janet--one I haven't seen before. I especially like the final tanka with its ambiguous last lines. A very relatable situation, enriched for the reader by your thoughtful musings.

  3. Well described. I had my husband in ER recently and I can relate to the long process of paper work.


  4. Wonderfully drawn. I was especially taken with the final tanka. I find nail polish fascinating ... the colors seem to imply so much about the wearer (as if they're trying to say something about themselves) - though, so far, I haven't a clue what that might be.

  5. thanks, everyone. that was just for a routine procedure, which took only barely longer than registration. sorry, adelaide, for the ER experience; hope your husband is doing okay now. yes, wendy, lots of nail polish colors these days - whoever said one must only wear red or pink?