the word seems to decay
my brain inside and out
as it slips off my tongue
and rolls into the air heavy
like 10,000 dead bodies and
their mourning families. it blurs
through my day smudging
up reality until I'm living inside
a plastic world the sky TV-blue
and my hands paper thin as
they reach across to hold her
shaking fingers as cold explanations
pour out of her mouth and into
my ears, sour like dead meat.
there is something about that
hour I will never forget. faces
contorted with sadness, a mother
straining to keep up appearances
and then a girl, just trying

to tell her friends

she had cancer.