I asked the doctor what was wrong with me.
He held his stethoscope to my amygdala.
Thought there was something blocked. Try writing,
he said. I have, I told him. Had to put a bung
in my pen. Stuff kept dribbling out. Can’t you check
my cortisol? I need a pacemaker for my days.
Try walking, he suggested. Try pacing up and down
a treadmill. I have, but I clocked out – the gate
clicked shut behind me. I’ve lost the key.
He offered me bread and wine and pilgrim’s sandals
and a map of the longest river. I told him I was tired.
His pharmacopoeia was nearly empty. Kissing?
Whom? I inquired. Start with a rose, lips to the petals.
Get sensuous with nasturtium. Run your hands
over the smooth bark of a beech tree in the gloaming:
perhaps you’ll meet another pair of hands – perhaps
your kindred spirit will be exploring from the other side.
I stopped off in a churchyard and washed the feet
of an old soak with cracked hands huddled on a bench
and forgot about the roses and the beech. When I got home
someone was sitting on my doorstep with a bowl
of warm water and a towel, a bottle of olive oil, as if
expecting me. I slipped round the back before they saw me,
and found a prescription pinned on the back door:
Let him be loved. Let him raise his voice on the street corner.