In the Temple of Mammon

Two hundred hour stints in Mammon’s gold temple,
loneliness tempered by rites which appal—the tall
tales that we swap along with the bleep, foundational
truths of our shared disbelief.

“He’s nice and quiet now.” Three fallen-angels,
in thrall to the throne, scrub blood from the pile—whilst,
silent and clammy with a faint, thready pulse,
the scale of his loss causes onset of shock.

A sacrifice guiled by the best, bedside smarm
of the sharp-suited priest with teflon-smooth charm—calm
now, but later all thumbs, as her blood soaks his arms
and seeps through the breast of his liturgical gown.

Finding powerful signs of post-op infection,
I’m searching all day for that same wayward shaman—medicine
costs, so we wait for his fresh invocation:
the tenets of Mammon trump clinical care.

Each dressing and dosage carefully counted,
the essence of caring quantified, charted—and charged—
but those on a package can whistle instead,
compassionate kindness not part of their Plan:

A room of their own for the night of the op—
exquisite wallpaper, pastel nurse-frocks, all the props
to sustain their belief—a satin-lined box
in which to recover. Or, perhaps, not.