The Ball-&-Socket Ball

dance of death
Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut

 

The Ball-&-Sock Ball

It was late o’clock in late October, I recall,
As I buttoned up my coat and set off home –
My hours in the library had still left no trace,
The depths of my mind were whipped to foam.
So, keen to sooner reach out to my waiting bed,
I took a shortcut past the ancient church –
And in my barely-woken walk I stumbled through the graves,
As I fancied how their folks might up-and-lurch.

But I never thought they would…
But I never thought they’d push the slabs aside…
And yet, here were their skeletons
Just walking round as if they’d never died !
Good thing I was overtired,
Or else I’d surely have to scream and hide…

Paralysed by shivering and weariness,
For the sight of all those bones had rattled me –
But most because I’d spent all week to memorise
On the finer points of man’s anatomy.
And as I looked in horrified astonishment,
A prayer had made its way onto my lips:
“The head bone is connected to the vertebrae,
And the metacarpals to the fingertips.”

But I never thought they could…
Yet I never had the chance before to watch the dead.
And yes, the hour was very late,
But then, well, so were they !  Yet there they tread –
And right there in the flesh…
Or, excuse me,
out the flesh, I should have said.

I saw upon those skeletons the marks of busy lives,
Like bones that once had broken and re-set –
I saw some more with fractures, some with cancers, some with spurs,
In a lesson I could never now forget !
Their joints had lost their cartilage, yet showed no trace of arthritis,
Where bones were grinding naked onto bones,
And osteoporosis having tapered some so thin,
Yet so carelessly they danced around the stones.

And I’ve never understood…
But I suddenly remembered ev’ry word I’d read –
These visions were impossible,
Because of ev’ry fact that popped-up in my head
And I was overcome,
And I dropped down in exhaustion on my grassy bed.

And when I woke up, slowly woke up, propped against a gravestone,
Quite alone in my new neighbourhood –
Well, I dusted off the dew and I made my way to class,
To a test I had to pass – and knew I would.
Now I cannot expect you to believe a single word of it,
Yet deep down in my marrow, there’s a shred…
Though I looked around the churchyard on that morning as I left
And saw ev’rything was still and very dead.

But I never said you should…
Don’t believe my ev’ry no-word-of-a-lie –
And as a trainee-medic,
I will always trust in science till I die.
But whatever did occurred that night,
I’ll always know one thing – dem bones ain’t dry !

 

 

I am a little bit embarrassed to admit that ‘arthritis’ above needs to be streesed on the first syllable instead of the second to fit the rhythm, but I can’t be that embarrassed since I haven’t removed it.

 

 

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