At the Late-Night Pharmacy

Returning unused medicines is an echo of sacrifice, a ritual of solid regret. White-coated priests receive my gathered offerings with smiles, but nothing else or, perhaps, a spiritual surety so deep that it no longer ripples the surface. I wonder what they do with them. Are they added to the next communion? Or are they shelved in a vast mausoleum? Here lie lives unsustained. It is a maze not to be entered lightly, a labyrinth no-one wholly leaves, a blister-packed eternity in each proprietary step. But here it is raining lightly, gods are mere conjecture, and the placebos are all unconvincing.

Oz Hardwick is a writer, photographer, music journalist, and occasional musician, based in York (UK). He has published six poetry collections, most recently The House of Ghosts and Mirrors (Valley Press, 2017), and has edited and co-edited several more, including (with Miles Salter) The Valley Press Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry, which was a National Poetry Day recommendation in 2017. His website:

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