(based on a half-remembered Egyptian original to be found in the Chester Beatty papyrus)

It’s been seven days
since I saw my sweetheart.
Since then I have sickened
and my limbs grown weak.
The face in the mirror
cannot be mine.

Eyes and tongues
don’t go that colour.
I tremble from head to foot
but I am not cold.
I sweat as in a bathhouse
but the room is not hot.

My head is on fire
but my feet are ice.
The tests are negative:
medicines ineffective.
The doctors won’t put a name
to what is afflicting me.

But what is this?
I hear her voice…
Her key turns in my lock.
Her arms are about my neck
and I know I’ll be all right now
for another seven days.

Ian Clark