She’s used to his smoking
the way his fingers fondle the death stick
the smell in his neck creases
she thinks of charred chambers,
flesh as bubbled grit, black fungus
and she holds her breath...
but it’s her they’re here for.
The trains crashed through her night
ricocheting among her bones -
the jangling xylophone
of chipped mugs and splattered spoons -
their half hourly shiver -
her teeth like rattled silver.
He lay stone quiet, skeleton still
the racket blowing over him
nose up from the sheets
his sail into sleep apparently untroubled.
Yes, it’s her they’re here for
two buildings from the hospital:
he found this place where
the bed clothes have breathed
soot, fibres grey and thickened,
tired as her riddled tendons.
He looks out the window now
to the yellow day trapped in brick prisons,
his fingernails catching light
and she sits in the one chair with her book.
Their gazes are emptier than light bulbs
and here she is. It’s her they’re here for
in this smudgy, morning pause
between the roar of trains. But then
too early for timetables, a barking hoot ,
and he’s in her lap, this trembling cadaver,
her husband wet faced and heaving
and the cigarette on the carpet
smouldering to its natural end