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We gather to remember

  • 08 December 2020
Selected poems

Item 23


Her chair goes back. She lifts her pitch.

She’s checked that last ignoble itch.

You know quite well that, on occasion,

she likes a little conversation

and likewise know you ought not feel

ten minutes more would be ideal.

You catch her glancing at her watch.

And thinking of a thoughtful scotch?

Is her smile what it’s been for

as she shows you out the door?

Why is it that you never share

the deeper reasons that you’re there?

Once more the news is far from drastic.

You rummage for your piece of plastic.


Your doctor is away today

but, yes, another one’s OK,

an older man who’s so relaxed

you’d almost swear he pays no tax.

Your BP lately’s been quite high

but he’s an offhand sort of guy

who reads your record off the screen

to check out where his colleague’s been

and talks benignly all the while.

You’re growing to admire his style

and sense somehow that he’s well-read,

more from the tone than what he’s said.

His final phrase though makes all clear:

It wouldn’t be too cavalier...


Your doctor sends you to another

just to see what he’ll discover.

Her worry proves to be ‘all clear’

but, wait, there is a problem here;

that dot she thought was background speckle

or, at the worst, a harmless freckle

is not a form of dermal static.

He thinks it might well prove dramatic

‘down the track’ a year or two.

You’re hastened to the surgeon’s queue

and so on to a skilled excision —

which, luckily, needs no revision.

Although your epic’s not by Homer

your dreams are free of melanoma.                                                      


Anxiety is the state of play;

your BP’s way too high today.

You know your GP won’t have space;

you’re on the phone in any case.

The name they offer sounds exotic;

no time now to be neurotic.

He checks your BP. It’s quite normal.

His manner’s cheerful and informal.

You move on now, with some confusion,

to what you fear’s a small occlusion

in an artery or vein

that’s in the groin — but gives no pain.

He tells you it’s a wisp of plaque

(waving quietly in the dark).


You’re more than grateful in your way.

You think about how every day

from 8 till 6, from Mon to Fri,

she helps defer the day you’ll die

along with others just like you,

who, worried by their symptoms too,

surf them nightly on the net

for all the wisdom they can get.

But sadly when she’s sick as well

your buoyancy is shot to hell.

Where’s the miracle you sought?

What’s not there