a theist in the night

I was doing rounds
up and down the hall
with my clipboard
and flashlight

I swung the light
into room 322
to see a wide-eyed woman
standing in the dark
staring towards the door

“Just doing rounds, Faith,” 
I said, and marked the sheet.

“Do you want to see my stool,”
she asked with an air of pride

“Is it in the toilet?”

“No, dear. I took it out.
I was concerned
because
it was hard.
Can I show you?”

“No-no,” I said,
“I trust you know
what you’re talking
about.”

“Yes I do, dear.”
she was almost smiling

I put the clipboard
under my arm
leaned to leave

“Do you believe
in God,”

she asked, still
with a grandma’s 
charm

“We don’t talk about God
or politics
on the unit,
Faith,
sorry — unit rule.”

“Oh, you don’t, dear?
Are you Jewish? Pagan?
Buddhist?”

I thought maybe I could end
the conversation
through abstraction,
and said, “No-no, I’m a 
theist.”

Her face swelled
into a blinkless 
horror-stare
then she reached 
her arm forward
flicked on the light
You’re an ATHEIST!”

I did the ‘calm-down’ thing
with my hands, 
“No-no, I’m a- 
theist.”

“I KNOW what
an ATHEIST is!
I’m not talking
to you
anymore!”

Then she flicked off 
the light
and slammed
the door.