Vocation - Obverse by Lferion
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Author's Notes:
Disclaimer: No harm, no foul, Not the BBC or Panzer-Davis. The poems, however, are mine, the second originally published in part in Walking to Babylon by Kate Orman (Virgin), the first written for this ficlet.

Notes: Written for the "Dan Clifford is Methos" challenge on holbycitylounge. Credit for inspiration and previous exploration of some of the themes of this piece goes to seashell14 in her response to the challenge -- found here. This may turn into the prologue of a longer piece, but no promises. Many thanks to kproche and temve.

Apologies for the Very Strange formatting on the poetry. the preformatted, single-space hard return, and the non-breaking space tags don't seem to work with this archive...

January 6, 2007 -- Holby, Logres


Death dreams - not
scarlet, crimson, vermilion, rust
But bitter blue - not
dying: dead
Bleached bloodless
White ash, clay and dust
The mystery of riven skin, unknit
Death dreams - not
ruddy, flushed, flensed, flayed
But bruis-ed blue - not
bleeding: bled
Breathless, blanched
Chalk and sand and salt
The calling of sharp-severed flesh

Death dreams - not.
Flesh and fire, blood and air
Lightning-blue - not
failing: fled
Upward, outward
Bone and breath, word and will
The invocation of re-formation: Life.

"Why surgery?" Someone asked me once, someone who knew - who I was, who - and what - I'd been. A good question. Why the consultant, the doctor, physician, barber-surgeon, chirurgeon, laece-man?

"Because," I could not tell them, "it is the obverse of Death-on-a-horse. Coin of the same stamp, the same metal, shaped by the same force, but with a shift in the set of the die, the other face upward." How could I explain - and have them understand - that the purpose of a blade is to cut: cleave death from life and life from death?

Or convey the ecstasy of immediacy, immersion in the small matter of the mystery of flesh that does not knit in a blue-flash moment, under the ozone-lash of light, but invisibly, slowly, cell by cell by cell. Still a miracle, a wonder. How could words, even my words, in any human language, mere written, spoken symbols, transmit what I know, the memory in my flesh, the images behind my eyes, the silences in my ears, so many, many layers interpenetrating? What possible framework could hold the concepts, the context, of who I am and what I might do for those from such a different place and frame of reference? (Actually, an interesting idea for another time. But back to my present purpose.)

Surgery. Flesh parting beneath an edge. Why?

Life before me, under my hands, subject to my skill, my will, my blade and purpose and presence. The continuance of that life, even betterance, rather than the end. The increase in knowledge, the potential for more, rather than less. And all with the same tools, the same experience, different result. I defy death with each incision. And Death hones each scalpel.

Daniel Clifford and Death have an understanding. As Dan, I can make that coin show the face of life. Death serves me, not Time, not War. The hoof-beat thunder in my ears is the rush of life in a repaired, un-riven heart.

I answered something prosy, citing - truthfully, but hardly completely - interest, curiosity, challenge, use and the irony of the unexpected. The forms were satisfied.

Someday, perhaps, I will know how to give a better answer.
I will write my will in warrior's blood
Wounding the world with my words

What do they know
That have not seen?
What do they know
That have not felt?

The flutter of life
Beating against the blade
And the red steel edge
Of silence

I will write my will in warrior's blood
Scarring the stars with my screams

Give me
the burning iron rain

Give me
the bitter shriek of spears

Give me
The sharp-sweet scent of the charnel-field

I will write my will in warrior's blood
Harrowing the heavens with my hands

That all may know
That I may know

The flutter of life
beating against the blade
And the red steel edge
of silence