(04 October 1943 / Germany)


A gleaming scalpel in his hand
gloved left hand on the thymus gland.
He slices with extreme precision
the pupil's frontal third division.
Leaves just enough at bottom end
to later stitch it back to mend.

His handiwork has been well learned
to justify a fortune earned.
He operates by the old book,
I hand to him the Crowley Hook
with which he dives into the eye,
inverted lid, attached a sty,
and wiggles until something gives
a miracle if this one lives.

A minute, slightly more, it slips
out, onto cotton balls and drips
with yellow gel and blood-stained gristle
assistant mops, and starts to whistle.
A gentle irrigation follows
until all crud has left the hollows.

We pack the victim now in bed
surrounded by sandbags, instead
of pillows or soft covers,
because his fate now simmers, hovers
until a fortnight well has gone.
And, after that life may go on.

Note: Cataract operations as described
are no longer done in such a 'crude' manner.
Also, instead of leaving the lens crypts
empty and relying on thick glasses to replace
them, today, artificial lenses are placed in situ.

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