Some faces look familiar,
haunted, haggard faces:
you’ve seen some of them in the mirror.
Strangely, it’s hard to tell.
Who has the mark upon them
and who is devastated by proxy?
The young woman, tense and brittle,
her pensioner father not reading a paper,
her mother nervously picking at a resewn hem?
The lanyard passes mark out
the healthy, the healers, immune
to all the misery and apprehension,
at least that’s how it looks.
And the chorus walks into the audience,
singing the rich variety of names,
underlining the diversity inherent in disease.
We look up at each herald,
calling out the summons to whatever
is waiting for us in the confessional consulting room.
And we wait,
we wait for news,
good and bad and barely comprehensible.
The young woman comes out,
both her parents crying, each holding the other up,
she shakes her head, it’s hard to know what to say
when your prognosis is not good.