When pain enters
I avoid the subject awkwardly
I don’t speak normally
I’m staring, gawping
Uncomfortable, I say things like
“At least it’s not cancer”
Degenerative, yes
Terminal, maybe
But has it got the mark
Of death from charitable research?
I change the subject
To more comfortable chunks
Of nihilism and existential dread
It’s impersonal, hyperreal
A philosophical way of
Not dealing with
The distress
And guilt
The helplessness of
Watching you suffer
While I broadly grimace
A mind of blank tape
Rolls on the reel
Clacking on each revolution
An empty vocabulary
Firing off cliches. But
When I come to visit
I’ll be silent and empathetic
Refill the water in the kettle
To keep the temperature
Warm enough to reheat
Your cooling skin


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