708 today by Alwyn Marriage

That’s fewer than yesterday
and the day before.
It sounds encouraging,
unless, of course, the 708th
was someone you loved.

My brother, for instance,
has for the last fortnight been
unconscious on a ventilator,
so in a way one might almost say
he died two weeks ago

except he didn’t. He was still there,
cared for by skilled medical staff,
and from day to day, hope rose
and fell in us like the oxygen
being pumped in and out of his lungs.

He had a name, a history, was unique,
has been part of my identity
since the day that I was born.
This makes it all the harder now to accept
his new status as a national statistic.

Alwyn Marriage’s eleven books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She is widely published in magazines, anthologies and on-line and gives frequent readings in Britain and many other countries. She is Managing Editor of Oversteps Books Ltd, and a research fellow at Surrey University. http://www.marriages.me.uk/alwyn

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