Waiting to Cross

She enjoyed their visits;

he was a kindly older man

with a German accent

and outdated clothes.

He came to see her most days,

sometimes more than once,

filing up the time between nurses.

They exchanged stories,

as those of age will do,

his usually about his wife,

hers mostly about her son.

He always asked the question,

every time,

as he would rise to leave.

She always declined the invitation

she was not ready,

it was not yet time to cross over.

She was waiting for a visitor,

the only one she cared to see.

She was sure he would come.

Then she could leave.

Posted to the dVerse Poets Pub.

Also posted to the Imaginary Garden.

Posted to One Single Impression



Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

17 responses to “Waiting to Cross

  1. Scriptor Obscura

    Beautiful. Lovely poem Mark. I really enjoyed it. So nice, such lovely imagery here…Not sure if I missed the meaning of this poem here, but does the kindly older man represent death, or someone who has already died and who is visiting the woman in her mind, or she is imagining him in a hallucination in front of her, but in reality he does not exist?

  2. An interesting take on this prompt… Just guessing she was waiting for Death to come finally….Nice microstory ~

  3. shivers…were my initial reaction…just at deaths door the angel here is gentle allowing her that///and it does bring some comfort…

  4. It was only after remembering Joseph Harker’s “symbol” prompt that I was able to interpret the poem. I find symbolism even more difficult than metaphor. This is all a bit to close for comfort at my age!

  5. the man with the german accent made me think (and not because of my german accent..smiles) was wondering if it has something to do with the war, something unsolved, something she has to get over first before she has the piece to cross that border to death…

  6. Slightly puzzling, totally fascinating, a tad disturbing – and one I shall come back to, for I sense it will not leave me.

  7. Thanks all for your comments. It appears I need to work on this one some. I intended to leave it a bit vague, not give it all away, but I have not given enough. The concept, as Claudia stated, was to fit the ‘borders’ prompt by using the border of life/death. The old man is an angel/ghost sent to escort her across (real, or not), but she will not give in to dying until someone comes to visit her in her deathbed. My thought was her son whom she told the stories about, could be an estranged husband, lover lost in the war …. someone she had not seen in some time.
    Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  8. You tell this tale with great sensitivity for the elderly and dying – very touching piece about the final border.

  9. nice storytelling told delicately about a delicate topic

  10. Shawna

    This is so heartwarming, Mark. I love it. 🙂 It’s sad, but it’s sweet … and not entirely morbid.

  11. Tino

    A very engaging story you weave, I enjoyed this so much I have read it numerous times.

    A fine piece in my humble opinion.

  12. I am glad that you shared your explanation, as I had not guessed that the man who visited was ‘Death.’ It is clear now that I know. I do think sometimes someone who is dying DOES wait for a particular person to visit before passing. I’ve heard about / seen / experienced this more than once.

    (Visiting from Imaginary Gardens and Real Toads)

  13. I wonder if her son ever came to visit?

  14. Thanks for the explanation, Mark. I, too, appreciate your sensitivity towards the elderly. I can see her so clearly – have worked among many lonely seniors sitting in chairs, recalling their lives, waiting for visitors who all too rarely come. Lovely poem.

  15. So sad. I spent a lot of time visiting my parents in a care facility, and got to know many of the other “residents” (nobody calls them patients any more) and some were obviously waiting, waiting, waiting.
    My mother pretended she was feeling just fine until the day my niece (her granddaughter) had her second child. We took Mom to see the baby in the morning, and that afternoon she said she wasn’t well. She died a month later.

  16. I saw your comment so now I know what you meant by German man. But I initially saw this as her dementia as I thought it was he son visiting, she just didn’t recognize him…

  17. For me the message seems to be that death is reverence for life and that the transition will occur at the proper time.

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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