Philip Larkin

Faith Healing

Slowly the women file to where he stands Upright in rimless glasses, silver hair, Dark suit, white collar. Stewards tirelessly Persuade them onwards to his voice and hands, Within whose warm spring rain of loving care Each dwells some twenty seconds. Now, dear child, What's wrong, the deep American voice demands, And, scarcely pausing, goes into a prayer Directing God about this eye, that knee. Their heads are clasped abruptly; then, exiled Like losing thoughts, they go in silence; some Sheepishly stray, not back into their lives Just yet; but some stay stiff, twitching and loud With deep hoarse tears, as if a kind of dumb And idiot child within them still survives To re-awake at kindness, thinking a voice At last calls them alone, that hands have come To lift and lighten; and such joy arrives Their thick tongues blort, their eyes squeeze grief, a crowd Of huge unheard answers jam and rejoice - What's wrong! Moustached in flowered frocks they shake: By now, all's wrong. In everyone there sleeps A sense of life lived according to love. To some it means the difference they could make By loving others, but across most it sweeps As all they might have done had they been loved. That nothing cures. An immense slackening ache, As when, thawing, the rigid landscape weeps, Spreads slowly through them - that, and the voice above Saying Dear child, and all time has disproved.

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