Led into halls of light I wandered
from here to there in the aisles – til the old
Aesclepius behind the counter
gestured. There were forms to fill and when
the pen broke I asked for another.
They rummaged in pockets, then brought it –
a small pencil with two worms entwined.
I signed my name, and paid. Then a girl
took my hand and brought me softly through.
The room was frankly a bit smaller
than would be comfortable. Panacea
took from me my rain coat, grey jumper
and I turned my weaker side to her
trusting absolutely her manner
her disconcerting eyes and warm hands.
Panacea – I said – sometimes I faint.
She looked at me, and from her dew touch
I felt an absolution pouring.
The hypodermus twitched – and with that
I received her in, with a faint squelch.
My muscles parted to house this clear
and salient organ amongst mine
and very soon, sent off without word,
I found myself in the cold, walking
to the barbers, musing on this debt.
These days we all owe a tithe to them
To the Old Ones and the working nurse.