POETRY:  Campus Kitchen

Campus Kitchen

by Amenah Arther

I told him to press 3 as

I stepped into the elevator,

Styrofoam take out box in one hand,

geriatric client name labels in the other.

And when the doors opened,

stench penetrated through my nostrils

and I wondered that it didn’t bother them

who lived in the rooms on that floor.

I passed blood stained stairwells and smoky lounge areas,

and when apartment doors opened I sensed that they

didn’t want to hear my overly pretentious greetings.

But some did. Some wanted to speak about their life stories

made mundane by lack of contact with social systems,

their entertainment limited to television and old-fashioned radios.

Some wanted heirs to pass on their antique furniture to,

and others wanted to share pictures of their now deceased loved ones.

My ears were there, but my heart was somewhere else,

sinking under a shroud of guilt and sadness and frustration,

and it wasn’t pity, but general concern,

for the elderly clients being force fed by visiting nurses.

And some didn’t open their doors when we screeched “Campus Kitchens”

so we didn’t deliver them their meals and I wonder

if they went hungry that night,

as my fasting stomach twisted into knots.

Where was I these past two years when my fellow

brethren were starving but two blocks away?

 


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