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Saturday, February 13, 2010

A White Ceiling Meditation

You might call it a white ceiling meditation.
‘Don’t lift your head! Don’t move your arms.’
The Indonesian nurse put a plastic cover,
like a shower cap, over
the enquiring head of their obedient robot:
‘Now I’m going to pin your arms
beside your sides.’ And she did with
a school matronly grimace.
‘Will I scrub now?’ a Japanese face at the door.
‘Yes,’ shouted the dominatrix.
I expected a mop and pedal bucket in one hand,
and a tough-teethed scrubbing brush in
the other. Not so: she returned with a colourful
surgeon’s cap on, a wrap-around apron.
‘Don’t lift your head!’ ‘Sorry.’
More white ceiling meditation, Om.
A small lady of unknown origin
and broken English, lifted the curtain
on my sexagenarian flanks and swabbed
thighs and groin with antibacterial fluid,
splashing drunkenly like Pollack in a mood.
With viewing screens adjusted,
the colourful cap said, ‘A little prick.’
Who she referred to I don’t know –
I was distracted from my meditation
by a small needle pain in my right groin.
‘A sting,’ and it stung. She began
steering the robot like an inquisitive
praying mantis, its bulky head
testing angles on my chest area.
I expected any moment to hear the cry,
‘Warning! Warning! Aliens approaching!’
and smiled to the white ceiling. The Head
flew in close and nudged my shoulder as
it took a close up of the cave within.
Stalactites and stalagmites competed for
room, having grown there for 65 years.
The ceiling flouros flicked off, a whirring
sound, then blazed again. The Head
drew away at speed and swiveled in
the purified air, sniffing out some morsel,
and bent its neck to peer up-close at my left ribs.
They shrunk back in fright. ‘Keep still!’
the disembodied voice whispered
in a stage whisper from amateur variety.
‘Last photo,’ the colourful cap kindly
added. She leant down to the ear of
her captive audience: ‘You have three
blockages and … ‘ She spoke on.
I lifted my head …

It was such a high tech scene, and
such a team of specialists
in the control room, theatre
and recovery ward, that the final token
of the morning’s procedure was
a surprise. ‘Nurse, it may need
a band-aid.’ A band-aid! I stood
in the shower this morning, wondering
at the minimalist punctuation on my groin.
A band-aid, from a cupboard in Recovery.

*

I am over ruling rules these days.
Left the hospital on my own two feet.
Snuck off, they said, without a wheel chair
and a nurse. I used to take nurses home
when I was younger, I said, but I'm not up to
sport at present. They rang me on my mobile
halfway home to tell me that. What a rebel.
Perhaps I'll put tassels on my Zimmer frame,
zoom off down to the Autumn Centre
and park in the manager's bay.
That'll show 'em.

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