Remission

Arriving unannounced it stayed for just a week.

Overjoyed, we got out, you drove, we walked

along the lane where we rested at the gate

and stood facing, not each other

but the far side of the dale.

 

This was the only time we ever talked

of all the things you would never see or do,

you hinted that you knew and extracted from me

that fateful promise never to tell the truth

a promise so well kept it corroded what was left.

 

The medic told me what to expect

explained the mechanics, the dark spreading stain.

So when it came we didn’t bother to get up again.

It was he who with a few deft strokes of the pen

finally set us both free.

 

And in the early hours of that very last day

two men in suits, the tidying service

come to fold you discretely away

heaving you through one last humiliation as

I pull down on the hem of your indignity.

 

This, the one last office I perform

before chain smoking my way through what remained

of that wretched December night,

burning holes in the paper thin screen of small hours

as I tried to hold back the trepidation of daylight.

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