Nebraska Center for Writers

by Todd Robinson

I've been sitting in this waiting room
for six hours, and I'm starting
to daydream at last: the nurse jiggling
out of her smock, brown skin
against a tan bra. Maybe the kid
next to me pulling out War and Peace
and reading it aloud in Russian,
maybe a tribe of cabbages struggling
for survival on the moon.
Yes. That's the one I need.
I can see the moon's chipped
fingernail through the hospital
window, and I need to believe
that while Dad is getting opened up,
innards scraped and sucked
four floors above me, a tightly-knit
tribe of cabbages is living out
their vegetal destiny
two hundred thousand miles above him.

There, in some sunless crater, the tribe
assembles, waxy leaves squeaking
as they jostle against each other to honor
their dying king. His green ridges
have yellowed with age, his roots dried,
skin patched and peeled in the airless atmosphere ...

The nurse jostles me alert, tells me
Dad's fine. Hail to the cabbage king.

Reprinted with permission
from SunDog: The Southeast Review
Copyright © 2000
by Todd Robinson

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