I told the medical officer
I didn’t like his colleague
said I thought he had an opinion of himself
that was far in excess of reality –
immature would be the best description.
Deep insight, so often preceded
by shallow reflexes of habit
a draft of tobacco,
an emptying of a glass,
the folding of newspaper.
Spectacles were removed and polished
as if to increase clarity
or lessen opacity.
Silence became weariness, then compassion
immaturity was not to blame
the circumstances of his vocational specialty,
the medicine of diving – bends – decompression.
Nitrogen in blood
benign at sea level
and under pressure,
it could turn malicious –
miscalculation easy … consequences severe … lethal.
The subject of my ridicule
had three times spent long hours
in small chambers, with ill divers
none of whom emerged alive.
The first was a gone burger
the second … fifty percent at best
the third was the miracle – death certain
but ethics demanded an attempt be made.
The odds were defied, vital signs surged
hope gave way to welcome
but the Grim Reaper was only taunting
and struck back
defeat, at the door of victory
the colleague without fault – such things happen
it had turned a screw in his head. “It would for anybody.”