Dr Fabrício – a poem by Anne Ryland

Dr Fabrício

It’s unnerving he’s set up his clinic in Rua da Artilharia – 
Artillery Street – but I am drawn into a realm of whiteness.

A moment’s wait. Knowing only dente, I lift recheio 
(which also means stuffing) from the online dictionary. 
I’ve come as I am, an emergency.
Acute-white shoes, trousers and tunic have rendered 
Dr Fabrício’s hair jet, his sentences beautifully chiselled.
This treatment unfortunately cannot be permanent. 

Bibbed, plunged back, I float away from the spotlight 
up into rooftops pastelled on the ceiling. Language
and debates ebb. Not one twinge. 
Dr Fabrício requests a verdict. Slightly tall, I croak. 
Yes yes, he says, I understand. He adjusts his work 
as if he were subject to the judgement of a higher being. 

I leave no fingerprints. The sliding doors’ white swoosh 
hushes me to a state of near grace. 
An eternally serene woman, with a golden tooth 
suspended from her necklace, greets me from a niche. 
She is just another fitment installed in this sanctuary
by Dr Fabrício, specialist in the dental-spiritual. 

Santa Apolónia, patron saint of dentists and sufferers,
I dare to rest my anguish at your feet. 
Here or home? Shelter or danger? Nothing is permanent.  

Anne Ryland’s third collection of poetry, Unruled Journal, was recently published by Valley Press. Her previous books are Autumnologist, shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2006, and The Unmothering Class, a New Writing North Read Regional choice. She leads community-based writing workshops in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. https://anneryland.co.uk/

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