20th November

In the white cotton sheeted bed.

A hibernating beast
haunting the middle
of nights,
stretching his eyes
to unnatural places,
mangling his face,
contorting his sharp bones,
and making the two of us whisper
as he shakes,
‘Relax daddy,
you’re OK daddy’
just in case
he recognises our voices
as we stroke his arm
and back.

he grabs us each in turn
to hug
even though time
hasn’t reminded him
of who we are.
Vulnerability is ignorance,
and his melting unfinished questions.
The skin on his hand
is soft,
my luke warm home.

We repeat,
‘Lay still now.’

I am strengthened
watching my strong brother
and think;
Keep calm,
keep breathing,
keep love coming.

We test him,
‘What’s his name?’
‘What’s hers?’
‘Who is he?’
‘Who’s she?’

Eventually memory flickers.

Sleep comes
in the fetal position.
Where is his hip
to place my palm on?
The blankets are so thick
and he’s too thin.

His breath deepens.
His black eyelashes
are beautiful, pointy,
like exploding fireworks
in closed lids.
Here’s the break he deserves.

The paramedics say,
“You’re both fantastic”,
but maybe they lie.

Since he’d been home
we’d finally kept on top
of the pain,
and kidded ourselves
we were doing OK,
then the epilepsy reared its hibernating head.

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