When I was lying amongst them –
the tubs of biochemical
waste – I had a thought, on the floor
there, under the bright yellow tubs
I cried later, the self-service
checkout beeped and I cried weakly
Julian of Norwich touched me
On the shoulder. She hugged me and
I cried at the gap. The quiet
where visions should have poured outward
was a small cracked rock in the dark.
The Wu tang Clan sung me back with
C.R.E.A.M. as my selfhood rebooted.
My heartbeat was slow, I was born
again, from a song I can’t know.
I thought: what has happened? I know
Nothing anymore, just this face
and the other, staring back down
As I lay on the smooth cold floor.
The lady passed by, I sat up
And stood up, slowly. I wandered
from here to there, bought frozen food
and went to the checkout. She had
hollow eyes and she hugged me close
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.