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Syndic Literary Journal

Poetry & Photos by Terry Scott

Photographs & Poetry by Terry Scott



Urban Camping

I awaken in the dark
and draw the blanket closer ‘round my hunched shoulders
while I ponder the luxury
of catching a bit more sleep.
Unfortunately, my bladder has other ideas.
I grope blindly for my shoes
and begin the long walk to the communal toilet,
crossing my arms in front of my chest as I stumble forward,
crossing my legs when I find it occupied.
I, like the other campers here,
am bleary-eyed
squinting against a light which is neither moon nor sun.
We’re a motley bunch.
Our clothes, rumpled from sleeping in them,
match face wrinkles more pronounced from fatigue.
But, like many campgrounds where I’ve stayed,
we share a silent bond,
a camaraderie born of shared hardship and deprivation.
The normal defenses fall away.
We smile at each other
and whisper “good morning” as we cross paths in this urban space
where the campers sleep fitfully,
dreams disturbed—not by the sound
of distant coyote howls—
but by the all-too-near cries of our children,
in pain and afraid;
by the foreign sounds of strangers
hunting their own sleep nearby.
We toss and turn,
grateful for the soft foot-fall of the nurses’ shoes,
silently padding in to check our babies’ vital signs,
in this space where we all
share one common name: “Mom”
and where privacy—for our children and ourselves—
is a valued, but non-existent thing.
As the morning sun streams through the window blinds,
painting a picket fence on the linoleum floor,
I feel a kinship
with all the other urban campers,
disheveled though we may be…
some of us waking under bridges,
some of us in our children’s hospital rooms
but all longing
for a peaceful night’s sleep
in our own beds.

Copyright Terry Scott, 2004
(Written 1/26/04 at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)


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Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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