Every time you hiccup
it sounds like I’ve pulled the plug
on the heroine of a horror
flick just as she cries for help.

Your sobs lead your hiccups
like grown-ups guide children
across roads in front of schools.
They’re bigger, more world weary,
a little aloof.

Your gags come out in spurts
between the two
in embarrassed haste,
like burps over coffee
on first dates,
like business men flustered
with their papers rushing
for a train, like the hot flush
you feel when you almost fall,
but don’t.

I bring my hand up and down your back
like I’m smoothing creases
in a mattress. I’ve brought a glass
of water for you, he sits here
as useless
as I do.

And between us, you’re the one to apologise.
It’s okay, I say.

All the pain you’re feeling,
that’s okay.

That thing that fell
into your school girl grey underwear
like an overripe blueberry to the winter ground,
that’s okay.

I am your supporter, I am your partner.
I’ll be bored now, and angry after.

And much later, when all the fashionable moments
have slipped past in steely silence,
I’ll finally understand
just how brave you are.