1. Twenty seven days. Feverish, I ask the doctor why. He looks at my notes, yellow folder telling him nothing and everything.

It will pass, he says.

Everything passes.

Take paracetamol, he says.

Universal panacea. Won’t it harm the baby?

It’s your first, you’re bound to be anxious.

  1. Anxiety knows no bounds as I lie there and sweat.

Do you feel the first lump, or do I?

It’s just your glands. You must be fighting off an infection.

Late night screen glows with possible diagnoses, cancer never far from mind.

My stomach grows, skin stretched taut, and I daren’t ask.

We … just … need … the … months … to  … pass.

And one day the lumps have gone anyway and I don’t think again, awash in breastfeeding.

Anti-apoptotically, your host cells persist and replicate.

Pro-apoptosis effector proteins, are disrupted,

Conformational change,

Proteins stymied.

The host will eat itself,

T.gondii triumphant.

  1. It’s amazing how quickly time passes with one young child, then a second.
  1. The first trace is a splash of yellow, bordered with black on the glowing red-orange of the back of his eye. Technology is marvellous, the doctor says as she shows me on the screen.

Can you cut it out, I ask.

It’s been there for years. He has two eyes. If you hadn’t had his eyes examined he might never have noticed.

Perhaps we should have remained ignorant. We were never meant to see the inside of our eyes.

  1. Is it obvious to everyone else? Omniscience is inhuman. Who knows?

I didn’t. And if I had known what could I have done?

I’m up late on the internet again.

Raw meat, soiled fruit, catshit? Nausea comes, years too late.

  1. Late nights are typical of teens, I read. In fact, it’s against nature to wake them early.

Let them sleep.

It’s normal for boys to become uncommunicative.

Of course it is.

It’s not normal to see things, hear things, that no-one else can perceive.

By then it’s too late.

Knife descends, repeat, and I wish I could have cut it out years ago.


Decomposition (Edited)

I could get a dog, she said, as she stuffed his worn clothes into bin-bags.

But if I got a dog I’d have to stay, and I don’t know if I can.

He’d worn the old coat so many winters, she should have it cleaned, but she put it in the bag. No use now.

She took the coat out of the bag and wore it to go out. Later, deciding that it didn’t help to see the green shoots pushing through the late snow she stayed in.

Take more time, her supervisor said. You’re not coping, is what she heard as she tugged at the frayed cuffs of the jumper he’d bought her.


It’s silent here, but the CDs were his too, so she places them in the bag and it rips and spills his life down the wooden stairs. Finally she weeps over the coat he won’t wear next year.

Couldn’t they have made life more robust, so a tiny rip in a vein in his brain didn’t scatter her life in pieces too? Why couldn’t that be darned like his clothes?

Something stinks in the kitchen, but she can’t care enough to track it down. It’s been there for days and in days it will be gone, decomposing as she sits on the stairs. Methane and sulphides release, a return to the infinite instant.

In weeks, or maybe months, he’ll be nothing more than bone, and she can feel her flesh begin to bloat in sympathy.

I could sit here, she says, and I could join him. If I sit still, how close can I get to being dead?



Sit still.

Breath slow.

Feel the wood through skin, fat, muscle, bone.

Hold the pain until it’s nothing

Wait until neurones slow, stay, stop.

Be numb.


Frost bites unwise green spikes this night, and there isn’t a dog, and his life is still scattered and she’s drifting somewhere above the village, over the river.

Loose ice flows downstream, and she follows it out to sea,

and somewhere on the passage south the ice melts

and she’s gone.