I used to have this marvellous lancet
That I bought from a barber in Dorset
Whose ancestors used to blood let
At a seventeenth-century convent
Before anyone knew about safe sex
Or viruses contracted from insects.
It used to be part of a whole set
With mother-of-pearl inset
Shaped like the head of a egret
And mottled with golden fleurettes.
It blushed like a rusty sunset
Where the darkening blade and grip met.
The barber said something I can't forget
About records they found in the convent
Giving seventeenth-century estimates
Of people who died from the lancet
In this particular parish in Dorset.
"They didn't know plasma from platelets,"
He said as he lit our cigarettes.
I felt a little like I'd lost a bad bet,
Helped bad men settle an old debt,
Until I parted with the antique lancet
At a rural flea market in Quebec
Where I passed the thing off as a barrette
Plucked from the head of Queen Antoinette.
From Occupations (2012) by Chris Jennings.