dVerse Poet's Pub Open Link Night speaks of superstitions and particularly those involving the number 13. This set my mind working along that particular track.
FOR THE CONSUMPTION
AND DISEASE OF THE CHEST."
Big letters on Victorian red brick
above a too-imposing entrance.
(Red once, but soot-encrusted now.)
I and the day are both thirteen.
I'm not exactly superstitious,
but in the light of those dread words
can not afford to take too many chances -
or so I feel. I ask my mother
and my aunt, "What are my chances?"
My aunt is quick to reassure: "It's lovely here -
My best friend died in here just recently."
I should have brought the rabbit's foot
my friend had offered me. I am not ill.
Not now, but have been so each year
since I was five years old. I've come
"for observation only" - which, I reason,
should improve my prospects.
(The family are frightened of T.B.
I do not know at this stage
that consumption is T.B.)
Neither do I know the treats in store for me:
a stunning view across the London roof tops -
from the hospital's theatre;
and then a fun broncoscopy - a periscope
inserted down the windpipe. No fibre optics then;
a rubber pipe with lights and mirrors
like a prestidigitator's dream.
I didn't see the show. I couldn't wait,
went into shock and saw them all
back stage when it was done.
My aunt was still in form:
explained how many patients died -
though not me! (Which I
already had worked out.)
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