Ray Charles Visits Suite 1, Radiotherapy Department, Christies Hospital, Manchester, England

by Linda Chase

Looking at the ceiling day after day?
the Siemen’s air-conditioning vent,
protruding speakers, lights,
the sound proof panels,
she tolerated the radio’s
monotonousness until today
when, out of the blue,
Ray Charles dropped into the room
with ‘What’d I Say?’
and she followed his every word,
each bluesy chord,
the entire pulse of him
wondering how and why
he’d found her in England
after all these years
since the time she’d heard him
in California playing
that big arena in 1965.
Wow! He was amazing then
and was, she thought, pretty wonderful
today too, recorded, invisible, even dead
and probably no longer blind
since he’d had vision till he was seven
and might be able to see again
if there were any justice
or afterlife?
her boyfriend has held
her hand that night
as if he’d been afraid
she might leave him
the way husbands put their arms
around their wives
in the waiting room
hoping the wives won’t die soon
and leave them and their children
alone the way she herself was alone
in the waiting room and now on the table,
till Ray came in ?
she wished she’d had her red dress on.