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.