Happiness at the Apothecary’s


In scanning my past for happy moments
—on being asked to come up with some—
I concede that there are a few
more like moments of reprieve
interludes of lightness
moments of praise, brief heart-warming moments
of relief when a social event I had been dreading is cancelled
or when my blood pressure is low but not too low
an armistice, a truce, a cease- fire
Or, like this morning, on waking to find I am 80-years-old
–such a round figure!—
and that I have survived!

Or on being in the apothecary’s shop
with countless little wooden drawers
emitting drafts of incense when they are opened—
and an aromatic paste bubbling in the dispensary,
a mother and child speaking Cantonese outside an open window
and The Immortals on their shelf, smiling , looking straight ahead
as I wait for Natasha to finish her treatment

Noticing how difficult it is for me to stay awake
Chen asks if I would like to go into one of the acupuncture rooms
and lie down—
It was so peaceful and safe in those moments before going to sleep
with the blinds drawn—
Such repose
in a darkened room smelling of sandalwood and ginger
and human voices in the alleyways of the town


Stuart Dodds

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