earthweal — THE UNSAYABLE — Covid Cathedral

As the big boxes of care were broken down and recycled
so rose a gleaming cathedral of doctor-priest-ordained profit.
The board of holified scrabblers’ scheme, catering caviar to pre-corpses,
circled the cauldron and called forth a lodgingmancer to design an icon
to reach the gold in the pockets of the best-insured with the soullessness
of a vapid smile and the mechanistic malice of a sentient black hole.
Pulled from where the gunshot wounded lie and car-less, home-less
schizophrenics wander; to the fringes, where there’s easy highway access
for Hummers and Ram trucks to roll in. A hotel of health where every
astronomically price-tagged bell and whistle is hauled out with glee – and covered!
Admin aghast at the outpouring for ventilators and overtime until
enlightened on the return. With the blessed onslaught of the pandemic,
refrigerated trailers needed to be rented from the knackers for the expired
overflow. Skulls nodded. Small price to pay.

 

 

This poem is about when my town’s 3 hospitals, at one time operated by 3 separate “non-profits,” over time became owned by one mega, Christian health-care corporation. A few years ago this corporation decided to shut down the three older hospitals after they were finished building a gigantic tower type hospital away from the poor neighborhoods downtown, on the same site as the newest of the older 3. Instead of choosing an architect that had experience in building hospitals, instead they chose an architect with experience in designing hotels. There were supposed to be two banks of elevators running through the middle of the building but at some point they decided only one was needed. Instead of having one locked supply room on each floor, accessible only to health-care workers and those delivering the supplies to it, they did away with that and designed individual revolving carousels that turned in to each room as a way that supplies could be loaded into them from the halls and accessed by carers instead of taking steps to the supply room. Maybe in a hospital that is germ-free and especially one without a deadly virus killing thousands per day, the carousels turning in and out of isolation rooms would have been a good idea. The refrigerated trailers standing outside of the hospital for the overflow of covid corpses from the morgue is true. That they were rented from the knackers is hyperbole.

About the top image It is not the new hospital in my town, but it is an interesting structure.


Church of Our Lady of Health, Velankanni, Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu at dusk. This 17th Century Roman Catholic Shrine is a very popular pilgrimage centre in South India. Velankanni was, in the early 17th Century an active sea port dealing with spices and other oriental goods. The shrine started as a small thatched shed erected by the local Christian converts following the vision of Virgin Mary, first to a milkman and then a buttermilk seller and a rich local resident. The Church rose to prominence when a number of Portuguese sailor-traders whose ship got caught in a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal off Velankanni was miraculously saved by The Holy Mother and brought safely to the thatched structure. The grateful survivors built the first cement and brick church building as a mark of gratitude. This became a frequent destination of thanksgiving and worship for the Portuguese and for many local Christians. The Church was made a Parish in 1771 and elevated to the status of a Basilica in 1962.  During the Feast of Nativity of Our Lady in September more than 2 million devotees, belonging to all religions and coming from far away places attend the functions. The Shrine is especially famous for its power to cure physical and mental illness.


(Info found at image link also.)

Brendan is the host of this week’s earthweal. Brendan says:
For this challenge, write about the unsayable. Describes the unsayable nature of the pandemic we are still fighting our way through. Is it the event which is best known or seen by its shadows and ghosts? What tools in the poetic repertoire are there for describing and naming and calibrating it? How is it akin to the slow but tidally monstrous impunity of climate change? Where does it differ? Are there other invisibilities to which it is akin, from digital mayhem to grief to galactic waves? Are there songs for the dead? How has the future landscape changed?

28 Comments Add yours

  1. Sherry Marr says:

    Oh my goodness, the story of the three hospitals is so indicative of the times we live in. What a disaster! The refrigerated trailers to house the corpses is very chilling. We are living things that, in the science fiction we read decades ago, seemed impossible to ever happen to us. And yet, here we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Well-said, Sherry. We are living in a dystopic science fiction reality.

      Like

  2. Suzanne says:

    Your anger and frustration at the weird and convoluted plans of major institutions comes through loud and clear here. The pandemic has highlighted so many injustices and examples of bad planning across the globe. I like the connection you make to the image of the gothic church and the pandemic. There’s lots to think about your poem. I’m going back to re-read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Suzanne. I’m sure that my anger and frustration are heightened because one of my sons has been working for the hospital(s) for years and has been placed at risk of harm because of so many poor plans and executions of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Suzanne says:

        Oh gosh! That must really play on your mind. The way the pandemic and the subsequent roll out of vaccines has been mishandled by the authorities beggars belief sometimes. I hope your son keeps well.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          ❤ THANK YOU

          Like

  3. The Christian Churches are big on death. It’s a stock in trade. And they like business too, so covid really was made for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I like your searing distillation, Jane.

      Like

  4. memadtwo says:

    Neither hospitals or medical insurance should be run by corporations only interested in the bottom line. I was just reading how they trim the budget by reducing the number of nurses, because nurses don’t make them any profit. That’s just one (very important) example. Capitalism is killing us, both literally and figuratively. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      And nobody seems real motivated to change it, even as we stare annihilation in the face!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. memadtwo says:

        Everyone’s exhausted–but that’s no excuse.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Profit should never be part of medicine. My neighbours son went to work in the USA, and died on the street of Philidelphia when he could not pay medical bills for a rare cancer. If only he had stayed in the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      My heart goes out to anyone denied health care because they cannot pay. Michael Moore made a movie about the US healthcare system, called, “Sicko.” Anyone and I mean anyone can be drained dry by a debilitating illness — even if you have healthcare insurance! Much worse for anyone who has none.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am a child of the NHS, all my medical care has been free all my life. I can’t understand how a rich country would do otherwise!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sadje says:

    That’s tragic, when caring is turned into a money making business. Very hard hitting message

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Sadje.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        You’re welcome 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. kim881 says:

    Our NHS may not be perfect, Lisa, but it has done a sterling job in handling the pandemic. When we thought that American companies were trying to take it over, there was a collective shiver. I have heard so many awful stories about people who suffer because they can’t afford medical care in the US. Your poem confirms that it is not the way to do it. I do not want ‘a gleaming cathedral of doctor-priest-ordained profit’ or a ‘vapid smile and the mechanistic malice of a sentient black hole’ – I want honest human care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      My experience with it is that they shove unnecessary tests and procedures at those who have good healthcare insurance and deny necessary care to those without it. Even if you have insurance so many things aren’t covered, such as alternatives to western medicine. Also, you are forced to call your insurance company to see if they will cover a provider-recommended treatment or medication, so it boils down to the insurance company determines your level of care not your provider. You’re right not to want to have anything to do with this system.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ingrid says:

    This hotel-hospital sounds like absolute madness! You have captured the insanity well in the word-picture you build up here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Oh it is! Thanks, Ingrid.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. ‘Mind the machine!’ That one line said it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Myrna says:

    Amazing how greed can supersede any vestige of true kind intentions. What ever happened to” love thy neighbor?”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. sdtp33 says:

    As, I think, Kerfe said above corporations and private enterprise have no place in the health care system. Up here in BC, that precipitated the covid disaster in long term care homes. Thanks for this, Jade.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You’re right and you’re welcome, Jim. How long are they predicting before you get your jab?

      Like

      1. sdtp33 says:

        Late April to mid May, it keeps changing but the supply is coming in.

        Liked by 1 person

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