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Number Twenty-Two

Various Patients in Waiting Room of a Health Clinic

Various Patients in Waiting Room of a Health Clinic

Your attention please.
There is no spitting here.
Take a number and a chair.

Will the old woman in the red blouse
and gray wool skirt lower her voice.

There is no saving of seats.
Will the two women fighting for a chair
report to the guard’s booth immediately.
There is no gashing of faces here.

No jalen la puerta.
El botón está a su mano derecha.

Your attention please.
Count the number of your regrets.
Remove acrylic nails.
With your left-hand fingers,
trace the number on the yellowing wall behind you.

Number twenty-two, step up to window D please
where the clerk is shelling peanuts.
Do not throw salt or spit three times
over your shoulder
or wander through the rose garden
looking for who you were.

Room number twenty-two,
turn in your high heels and your purses.
Leave your perfumes and flowered sheets at the door.
Do not disrupt the dining pleasure of other residents,
or their mahjong tiles. Speak in lowered tones.

Your attention please.
Turn in your mirrors and your valentines.

Author’s Bio:

Judith Terzi lives in Southern California where she taught high school French and college writing for many years. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals and anthologies, most recently in Eucalypt, Ginosko, The Pedestal, Raving Dove, and Red Rock Review. Her poem, “Blanca,” appeared in Moondance in 2003. Visit her website at

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