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?