It crouches above the ripe strawberry of her left nipple -
a swelling blot on the flawless skinscape of her breast;
a mortality reminder, a dead bell echoing in her ear,
eclipsing future hope and all she holds dear.
Mornings, in the bathroom, she absently fingers it
and feels the ice-curl of chill around her heart
as subterranean steam February-frosts the mirror with a hazy gleam.
Nightly she lies thigh-to-thigh with him.
He tastes the vanilla butter scent of her skin.
She tastes horror's metallic tang, crushing close to him,
sweaty with anxiety and morbid with imaginings;
slipping through the cradle of his arms, that fault-line crack,
as the earth and her world quietly shatter apart.
And she knows words are helpless to hold back the fear-frosted air.
The horror is strung between them, taut as a tightrope,
across which creep all her figures of fear -
the dream demons who whisper constantly in her ear.
And all she wants is normality's reassuring touch -
a benign, safe hand upon her arm.
She tries to hide within the details of daily living
and takes small comfort where she can:
mundane morning rituals, the clatter of diurnal routine,
dishes dunked in foam-bubble water,
telephones ringing, voices asking.
Snowdrifts of hospital appointments pile up on a table.
And she feels isolate and separate as a snowflake,
a temporal frailty melting on the heat-pulse of humanity.
She no longer feels human.
Cells mushroom and proliferate within her body's twisting maze;
sickness spreading through labyrinthine arteries,
darkness shadowing veins' corridors, gathering in nodes.
A hidden malignity glitters in the web of infinity;
her skin shimmers ice-iridescent with radiation.
Cold mornings close in.
She prepares antioxidant-rich fruit in a bowl,
slicing strawberries with surgical precision.