In her poem, “In the Waiting Room”, Elizabeth Bishop describes the waiting room she is in twice: once at the beginning of the poem and once at the end. At the beginning of the poem, she describes it as a room full of adults, lamps, and magazines. She also mentions that it is winter outside, so it is getting dark early. The image she creates is a sterile one. It sounds like a dentist’s office should look: people, light, magazines and because she mentions that it is getting dark early, there are probably windows that show the winter darkness.
During the poem, Bishop tells the reader about the National Geographic magazine she is reading and then takes the reader through her whirlwind thought process of the images she saw and how they relate to her Aunt Consuelo. Sitting in that waiting room, Bishop is full of fear, doubt, and curiosity. She is confused about her life and what the images are telling her about herself and her future.
The emotions that Bishop reveals to the reader throughout the poem change the way she describes the waiting room. It is no longer a sterile or serene environment, but one that is incredibly uncomfortable. The waiting room she is in at the end of the poem is completely different from the one at the beginning! This room is too bright and too hot, yet it is filled with darkness. The room is also about to be destroyed by black waves. The fact that she creates such a scary visual for the reader shows how these images she was looking at and the simultaneous presence of her Aunt Consuelo made her question herself and the world she lived in.