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We wish you well, wish you a swift return.
We, the ones left here
in the waiting room of old magazines
and lurid wall art, drawings of
lungs, or hearts, or heads,
bright colored and reminiscent
of those pull-down maps
in elementary school classrooms.

Diagnosis. Anyone can see what is,
a collection of symptoms and temperature
readings. The art is in discovering
What it all Means.

You set out with your white coats,
rumpled hair, pale faces,
saddled as Shackleton
struggling to reach the goal.
Not a Pole, but an answer
you can bring back,
solemn or joyful, but fascinated
by the shape and size
of your discovery.

And we wait for you, whoever
we are in this long analogy
drawn out to distract us
from the waiting.
Perhaps we are the faithful
families of explorers,
hoping anxiously for
a return to normal.
Or the wealthy patron
funding this mad journey.
Or the reporter pacing
at the docks,
eager to be the first to hear,
dreaming of the big scoop.

Really, we’re willing to be
anyone, anywhere
except what we are.
Waiting, worried
with any second
the chance of tumbling
into the ice fields and chasms
of another expedition.

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