Giving Up The Ghost

The registrar is spectral to his bloodless fingertips,
And ectoplasmic verbiage comes spouting through his lips:
It courses down his chin as if an after-dinner spume.
Altogether he's a body that one wouldn't care exhume.

He shows you his analysis in figures on a spreadsheet,
While his charges share a breakfast and a bandage and a bed-sheet.
His hands retreat at intervals to dark, suspicious pockets
And his eyeballs roll like tiny marbles round their shady sockets.

He strokes his nose. He tweaks his cheek. He tames a vicious tic.
He speaks in ghostly syllables about the lists of sick:
As spare as air, he whispers of economies and curves,
Unnervingly contriving to play havoc with the nerves.

Statistical infatuation: that's the man's disease,
As his shadow flits the corridor, substantial as the breeze.
And his mind is fixed on one thing as he turns the surgeon's knife:
There's no profit in the graveyard, but there's even less in life.

From the book Rime Present