There’s not a lot you can say to somebody who’s ill.
Somebody who coughs like they’re allergic to oxygen
and can’t find clean air to breathe,
somebody who sniffs and snuffles and talks in a muffled
croaky, woe-is-me voice, fractured and afraid
that the common cold might kill them.
I’ve had plenty of illnesses, plenty of bugs,
I’ve swallowed plenty of tablets and drank Lemsip
from plenty of mugs, ’til my face turned lemony, bitter like a nettle,
and my breath started smelling strangely like Dettol.
I’ve had a handful of flus, a handful of UTIs,
I’ve thrown a sickly shade of green up in front of teenage guys
on a green in Kew Gardens, when the liquor had hardened
in my stomach
and I sat with my head in a bin, spewing the remnants of a Subway sandwich.
I’ve had McDonalds food poisoning and full-bodied chicken pox
the former had me chucking up bitesized nuggets
the latter had hands, grandfatherly rugged,
spraying my back with tepid water
while I listened to the faint voice of his beloved daughter,
– my mother
the one who’s ill now and spewing her guts out
and popping paracetamol ’til she reaches the goal
There’s not a lot I can say to her,
except “get well soon” or “I hope you get better”
and give her a pat on the back or blow her a kiss
staying away from those leperous lips.
She woke me up with her violent upchucks
two nights ago, tossing to and fro,
I could hear her writhing in amongst the sheets,
internally mumbling a chorus of “why me’s”
but in the morning there wasn’t much to say
except “oh you poor thing, I hope you’re okay”
and wait for her illness to latch its greasy claws onto little old me
I’m sure soon I’ll be spluttering
and turning Hulk-green.