General Anaesthetic

A bright-lit waiting room. People of all ages

and in every degree of distress

with empty expressions on their faces

preparing for death.

A name is called, and a victim is led

away. They are laid out and stripped of all

possessions, before the stainless steel bed

wheels down a hall.

Looking at a view of the ceiling

they journey along polished corridors

filled with antiseptic feeling

and a series of open doors.

They arrive at a destination,

a room lined with neat stacked shelves. A curtain

is drawn. A sense of anticipation

replaces what was uncertain.

A calm woman dressed in a plain blue gown

appears from somewhere, and speaks in soft tones,

and then without knowing they are led down

to undiscovered zones.

And are taken to a place where the world

no longer matters, and the five senses

are cancelled; a place with neither cold

nor heat, no walls or fences,

no money worries or family disputes,

no politics, no traffic jams, no fear

or rage or pain, no deep-seated roots;

a place without a “here”.

A fortunate place. They discover

what it would be like to have died,

and all terrors are over.

To recede like the tide

into perfect oblivion

seems suddenly to be the endless bliss

promised to us by religion.

And it is just this:

a blank. The unlucky come back to living

like workers who have to return to town

after a holiday, but are given

a hospital gown.   

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