In February last year you developed a cough,
brought back perhaps from your trip to Ireland
or caught from a girl who got a little too
close at a party. I remember sitting behind
you, trying to pay attention to the professor’s
lecture on syncretism while still
observing the expanse of your brown-shirted
back, the way the muscles moved powerfully
with each breath.

I learned today that there is not much
one can do for a viral cough besides rest,
showers, and frequent doses of hot soup. This
was one fight you would have to win on your
own, but that didn’t stop me from wanting
to make you Lady Grey and
fill your room with lavender,

and I wonder if you would want the same
on this day in September, if you would sit with me
among the used tissues and empty medicine
bottles and scratch your nails along my ribs,
listening to the rumble of my lungs.


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