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51 Hospital

hexagram-51-hospital‘THEY KNOW HOW people feel about their bodies. They know what things are used just
once, then simply thrown away.’

If one or two fields are hollowed out for healing, surrounding ploughlands
look anaemic, uninvolved. Surgeons and farmers rarely meet –
though a tractor may slither down a mudbank. Brilliance is called for
when the levee breaks. Relatives, as well as panickers among the public,
will hamper evacuation; patients must be handcuffed to their records.

1st – The Field Hospital
The body has its own front line – urgent, ragged and noisy. The rattle of a
bullet in a tin dish is just the beginning. Prisoners are afraid they might be
used for experiments. When the morphine runs out, placebo M&Ms are
distributed – each colour represents a different level of pain relief.

2nd – The Hospital Vestibule
The by-laws are lost, but someone’s on the case – an orderly perhaps, or
a Friend of Wellness. Meanwhile, a codger asserts his buttonholing rights,
mumbling into his Levantine beard a parable of celestial triage, drowned
in a concourse of echoes. He has some problem also with his palette.

3rd – The Hospital Lunch
The conjurer lifts the lid on a sad surprise: vegetables huddled together
anxiously, as if on their first night at the zoo. There’s no rota for changing
the rota, so once again the cold end of the ward savours the tasteless hors
d’oeuvres of expectation. The trolley stalls. Lunch is a two-hour interlude.

4th – The Enlightened Hospital
There’s a living wall; there’s a Zen garden in a light-well. The nit lady
finds an acupuncture needle in a girl’s hair. A nurse, washing her hands,
focuses without judgement on warm water, soap, and where she is in the
clinical environment – at the basin, a mild chronic pain behind her brow.

5th – The Hospital City
It’s a mile back to the ward: your symptoms may complicate. Nurses
often use scooters, surgeons skateboards. Sometimes there’s a known Dr
Hodad (‘hands of death and destruction’), perhaps a drinker, or someone
who likes to offer virtuosity, a special service, VIPs being most at risk.

6th – The Exclusive Hospital
So you covet the room with three sofas and a balcony with a perfect view
of the wicket? Make your bid by all means: many fear such attentions,
the final luxury, so the room might well be free. As you sit at the window
knitting, relish the shattering of stumps, the healing power of willow.

All six – The Working Hospital
The holy of holies is the grail long imagined, though one is seldom if ever
in the moment. It’s all handing over and thanklessly taking, peering and
fiddling, and mumbling into masks. The communicants speak staccato in
various accents. Stay with us. You are the wafer and the wine.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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