in the hospital cafeteria while my son has eye surgery

hips like a buffalo
bright blue suspenders
he stood in front of the garbage can
for an inordinate amount of time.

damndest thing
the garbage talks to you,
he finally turned away
and said to me.

and it did.

thank you for putting your trash
in the receptacle,
came a female voice
with a british accent
out of a speaker built into it.

walking out
i passed by the man in blue suspenders:

he was standing behind a strange wheelchair
it had three large wheels
and was tilted back at an angle.

in it
was an emaciated old man,
green tinted skin
his eyes were closed.

standing at the elevator
waiting to go down to my son's floor
they came up behind me.

almost done for the day dad
one more round
and we can go home,
said the man in suspenders.

the old man didn’t respond
he just layed there
eyes still closed.

the doors opened.

i asked the man in suspenders
what floor they needed.

third floor
chemo,
he said.

the silver doors closed.

it lurched slightly
as we started to move.

the old man opened his eyes,
they were black
vivid as shoe polish.
i nodded to him
without an ounce of pity.

he nodded back,
like people used to,
when looking a man in the eyes
meant something.

they don't make them
like that
anymore.