Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

At Takhli Hospital

I lie with my head below my feet
like a water boarder while my dentist
masked and gowned has her arms
wrapped around my head from behind
like a lover.  She plies her Novocain needle
on one side of my tooth and the other and
every time I wince she whispers in my ear
in a small Thai voice coaxing the little boy I
haven’t seen in seventy years to be brave,
just a little more.  There.

Later, I sit in a wooden gazebo behind the
Takhli hospital waiting for my wife’s daughter
to find us.  My mouth is packed with
gauze, but the Novocain has deadened
any urge to speak.

My wife sees a shrouded body being
wheeled on a gurney into a one-story
building behind me and says, “someone
dead,” but I don’t turn to look.  

The weather here is changing.  It seems
to be unnaturally quiet.  No one is speaking
but I hear kitchen sounds from an open
window, there is a breeze so gentle and
consistent it could be made by a house fan. 

Where is that little boy?  Where’d he go.

FG           10/14/2015

Takhli hospital is an old government-run hospital that has an unmistakably Thai feel. The main gallery - where patients wait uncomplainingly for hours – looks like a night market with vendors selling everything from lottery tickets, fruit, pork-balls to God knows what ply their trade. I went yesterday to get a wisdom tooth, already rotted down to the gum-line, pulled. I had my doubts, but the experience was a good one.

Well, you have to show up before six am to get a number and then wait in a little alcove that has hibachi-like, low wrought iron seats for hours, but the dentistry area was modern. There were four dentist seeing 30 patients a day (I’m told up to 50 on Fridays) all working in a compact space with the same set-ups. I think everyone in the room was female, doctors and technicians, and everyone is wearing surgical gowns and masks. You see a technician who opens an autoclaved pack and sets up the process. Minutes, maybe hours, later you go back in to see the dentist who goes about her work in a professional way.

All in all, I was favorably impressed. One of Chunky’s daughters had a cavity done and because she is Thai it cost her one dollar. My extraction cost less than $20 (with medication) the full price.