i left my house tonight,
and went out walking,
across the highway,
and past the baseball fields.
the sky was lit with moths,
and the stands were almost full.
they were students, for the most part, who had come to support their friends.
they filled the air with sound as the teams took the field.
it was uplifting, drony, a little out of tune,
like an orchestra tuning to 440 before the symphony begins.

the energy of youth filled the air.
i felt as though a storm was approaching.
and because my hair crackled and twitched as it did,
and because i could feel myself getting high from the noise and the lights,
i doubled back across the avenue
that separates the college from the hospital.

but across the street,
through the bent back flowers,
i was shown glimpses of a different world,
of old men and tightly clenched families,
of sleepy doctors smoking reverently on the loading dock.
there was one fellow off by himself, a large man,
hunched quietly in the shadows, completely lost to the baseball fields.
he didn’t know what was wrong,
but he had brought flowers anyway,
and he waited patiently near the front doors,
holding fast to thoughts of good medicine for his beloved one.

i didn’t have the heart to tell him though,
that the damage was too extensive,
and that these were her last months on earth, with him.
nor could i tell him about the cancer, waiting patiently in his own lungs.
i just couldn’t say a word.

i walked on, caught between two worlds,
angry at the happiness i was walking toward.
the focused crowd which was so unaware of the pain across the street,
which only the lights and noise held at bay.

i looked back, across the avenue,
and i stared at the windows on the hospital’s top floors.
some of the lights flickered in unison,
suggesting the same channel on different TVs.
dozens of strangers in separate rooms, trying to fall asleep,
not knowing that they were going off to dream about the same things.
the news, sports, commercials, the weather.

my eyes became heavy.
i let them fill with tears,
but i refused to let them fall.
not for the losing team,
not for the cars on the highway,
not for the sick man falling asleep in his flowers.
i just kept walking, feeling a dark cloud around my heart.