Vaccination Day

Three of Five Pieces

They enter

in curves and stoops

limping and tapping

a file of bare arms

creased faces uplifted

red eyelids pouting

eyes curtained in cataract.

The syringes are magazined at his hip.

A pinch of skin

in a chill autumn morning

a stinging spreads out

at the borders of shoulders

the grim supplication

for all his attention

the trembling smile

on his remembering a name.

Swabs spent in buckets

the names all collected

a shifting and ambling

across the lawns to their lives

on small porches

and in dim echoing cells.

Washing his hands

of the short easy morning

those bird-bone arms

grow stars of David

in the injected wheals

and the upturned heads

pull at his neck

for a sparklet of mercy

he prodding them down

into the frost

from the stinking trains

at the point of more serious weaponry.

They are a herd

fanning out to their winding down days

dark-eyed ones shuffling blind

to other deaths, gassed and limed.

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Correspondence to Malcolm Parker.

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Parker, M. Vaccination Day. Bioethical Inquiry 11, 161 (2014).

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  • Public Health
  • Cataract