Peter Clarke (1929 - )
Out-Patient, False Bay Hospital

mixed media
50 x 35cm

He drops his card into the box at the window & turns to find a seat in the crowded waiting room
of the hospital among the sick, the lame, the soon-to-be halted for ever & ever. They're all waiting
their turn to see a doctor. His appointment is for 10am. He relaxes, looks about, picks
up a magazine from a batch some charitable organization deposits at the hospital. People
talk, cough. There is even laughter. At a certain time another charitable organization will serve
soup & a piece of bread to all who want it. On this winter day hot tasty nourishing soup is welcome.
He eats his soup & bread & afterwards reads the magazine.
The thought occurs to him, "Here I sit, an old man with an old mans complaints waiting for
the doctor & for death." Once a long time back he too was a cute, cute baby & then in turn a
toddler, a young child, a teen ager, an adult. He enjoyed a robust active life with only the
odd insignificant ailment from time to time. "The human body is like a machine," he
muses, "absolutely miraculous in the beginning. But even this machine starts to break
down as it ages. Then - problems - you can't find spare parts with which to repair
it." Long ago he resigned himself to the inevitable. "I wouldn't like to live for ever."
He will see the doctor. Afterwards, from the dispensary, he will obtain the packets of pills
for various purposes which, in reality, he sees as basically representing delaying tactics
on the way to the grave.

2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.