Walleah Press          Communion


      Michael Sharkey — 'Disabled'

The very sight makes voyeurs of us all.
What is it like to live with that?
We’ll never know unless don’t say it,
and we’d like to change the subject, but we can’t.

What is it like? We’d like to look away but don’t
we’re not here long, enough to show of course
compassion that we’ve practised and we do feel how
it must be and half listen to the answer

if our friend can speak at all. We’d like to know
how does it feel and where and how and when
did you first were you born with and are some days
worse than others then what happens.

What’s it like to live with answers
every minute of the day, sometimes an hour
every second, take for instance well
that’s that then when the penny drops

before the doctor’s little chat has ended,
can’t get better, could be worse. No, will
get worse. There’ll be of course adjustments
but the news is not all bad life will

go on the day’s still fine, the trains are
running no one’s dying that you’d notice. But
there’ll have to be some changes. Like
the looks that parents, partners, children give us

and the silences until we turn to furniture
again when you’re all right here by yourself then
sweet, no problem, we’ll be off. Thank you
for calling. And the books will lose their savour,

the remote control will fall down out of reach,
or batteries fail, the thing we hoped would not
occur has just occurred, and that in public,
and it’s all right I’ll just sit a little while.

But that ‘It’s all right’ isn’t right.
There’s something queer about the language.
Words don’t mean what they should do they
everything goes at an angle to the question.

What’s it like? No need for like then. Who could
like? And what is like? A bird’s a cardinal,
a treatment is a treatment’s not a treatment.
But it could be. In a word, there’s nothing in it,

pain of others is remote as if an image in a mirror
could have feelings, while compassion shadows
patience and that train will soon arrive, the day’s
still fine and we’ll be off then. It’s no problem.