Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry by Eli Siegel

Those Who Wait

They have waited for years and years.

Their eyes are weary, their feet are tired.

They have waited to see Mr. Colborne, Mr. Smith, Miss Kirk, the general, the headwaiter; and they have waited to see people whose names they did not know.

They have waited through mornings; through lunch hours; through afternoons; and they have come back the next morning and the next

On benches in factory employment offices, in hospitals, in relief agencies, in county offices, until the minutes looked like sad congested chewing gum, being dragged on and on, thinner and thinner.

Life was made up of hard benches, of thuds: of Miss Hanson is out for lunch; Mr. Lewis is out of town; nothing more today; will you leave your name and address; and particularly, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry and SORRY.

It has been a dully waiting world.

It has been a set of years with dull mornings, dully thudding afternoons, and gnawing, unappetizing nights.

What was being waited for was not fully known.

What was being looked for was vague.

But there is electricity in the benches,

There is a sunrise in the weary eyes,

There is a lark rising in the dull tired backbone.

There is a tremendous, drum-like, sweet and mighty Yes in the Sorry and the Sorry and the Sorry; and the Yes will be seen and take form and make America spring in beauty.

America is waiting as the millions sit on benches.

America is waiting as confusion, muggy and grey, envelops the benches.

The gong of time will sound; the flag of America will have a new swift, great ripple in the sun, and the Waiters will say:

I have what America waited for.

I have waited for an America seen and cared for by 160,000,000 Americans,

Who now know what they have waited for.

O sun that is rising and sunny,

O sun that has made earth free and cared for; and is here on time after the waiting years.