Dodging germs

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

of numbness.

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.

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