Magazine & Press

“Please Pay at the Reception Desk on Your Way Out” by Constance Bourg

Listen to Constance Bourg read her poem, “Please Pay at the Reception Desk on Your Way Out”


No one is saying that your illness is in your mind.
You may well find yourself having all sorts
of physical symptoms. But our tests are the source

that we base our opinion on. They are the best
of what we have to offer. They should put your mind at rest.
The small anomalies are meaningless. I’d like to proffer,

that any serious illness would leave a trace behind. But
we haven’t found anything. You should be reassured
that your test results are so good. Nevertheless,

we would like to recommend a treatment of exercise and therapy;
you must avoid becoming deconditioned and depressed.
This has been proven helpful in some cases. No,

we are not familiar with the studies you are citing. We have our own
evidence that we base our recommendations on. We don’t know about any fudging
of facts, nor of this new research, except that they have found nothing.

I’m afraid we can’t help you any more than we have. Why don’t you just go
for a walk in the sunshine. Let us know if there’s anything else; come back
another time—my assistant will take your payment.



Constance Bourg lives in the Flemish part of Belgium, where she volunteers at her local library and social food market. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Frogpond, Haibun Today, Plath Poetry Project, and an anthology of poems about illness by Emma Press. She always says that she lives a “part-time life” because of a chronic illness called ME/CFS.

1 Comment

  1. Léa

    An excellent piece that reflects a cold, inhuman, money-obsessed system. I would love to reblog this.

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