It was only an ice-breaker, understand,
but his first consultations always began
with a tale that the doctor swore was true:
A man there was who travelled the world
for botanical specimens, tropical, rare.
And with him went - at enormous cost
in money and time and energy - a marble
headstone carved with his name
and every conceivable relevant fact
Only the date of his death remained
for the mason to chip when his chips were cashed.
Amongst the facts already there,
the one great achievement of his life:
that the stone had gone with him wherever he'd gone.
So why did he burden himself? you ask -
or have perhaps your theories wrought?
Stop a moment and frame those thoughts,
for that's the question the doctor put
to every patient who heard the tale.
Their speculations enlightened his mind
and revealed to it what tormented theirs.
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