At first he’s nowhere in the computer.
His wife is on her way from work.
Their sons are waiting in a waiting room
next to patient registration.
I had wandered down there
to complain about another patient
assigned to me who wasn’t mine,
but down there they had worse things
to worry about,
like the man who worked upstairs
whom they’d just finished
After hearing his name and looking him up
by adding Sr. to his last name
and reading what I had and could have done,
I offered to tell the boys
who are young men not boys
and call their grandfather
and try to reach their mother
and greet his colleagues,
now filing in to wait.
Pretty soon I was in the middle of this tragedy
directing traffic the way I had been taught
and can’t stop.
The older son acted older.
He must be named for his father.
The wife and mother told me
how much her husband liked me,
and trusted me,
then she thanked me.
When I came home from work and my son,
visiting for Christmas,
asked how was my day
I talked about what happened
as if explaining a photograph
tucked inside a wallet,
someone who reminds you
who you used to be
and who you thought you’d be,
something you carry around for years and can’t
throw away and sometimes
don’t think about.