For Now, Let’s Just Talk

There is no other sign of life here,
only my fingers caught between
the wooden pages of a newspaper.

When everyone else builds
the flat packed cement houses outside,
me and the nurse behind the glass
scrutinise each other, munching dry biscuits
and maybe
saying sorry for the spoilt tea nobody drinks.
Of this I am not yet so sure.

I suppose she checks the pulse,
the nurse with a concrete face
keeps filling in the charts
with the same precision she fills in
the crossword spread open
over my legs.
I do not mind.

I say to her ‘could you please remove the batteries
from the white clock’ the time
does not matter now
what matters, I think she says, is hanging on in there.
Her own watch upside down
hanging on, just about, with her name badge.

I offer her my bed.
I could after all sit in the waiting room
by the door
or make her coffee, I suggest.
But Susan points her finger at that hole,
uncovered wound on my chest.

‘For now, let’s just talk.’
The bare wall is
the last thing I remember and
Susan watching the news.

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Photo: John Stadnicki

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The Chairs

We have become so good at
talking about the weather
when we don’t speak at all.

Not a moment of silence can pass
between us
without me reminding you
how you left the white empty chairs outside.

Look, it rained on them
for weeks and weeks,
we have nowhere to sit and rest now.

We walk on the frozen cement with bare feet
and listen:
the rust peels off in the sun,
our skin peels off
to reveal the true colour of our bones.

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Ink: Maria Butunoi