by Linda Brooks





Winter’s blast enters with me

slamming the glass door to the café

you’re already here, pretending not

to wait, holding your gaunt frame erect


You move when you see me, stepping

forward with careful pace, waving

a pale tight-skinned hand, choosing

the table in a sunlit corner. You’ve aged


twenty years in two, so thin you almost

fold in half. Wanting information

on the cancer, I lean in to hope

I didn’t get the email attachment, I say…


The left corner of your mouth jerks

the way it always has. You release

a deep sigh, then details: biopsies

mesothelioma, late stages, prognosis


You accept the coffee, declining

the menu with minimal gesture, then

frown as I place gold coins on the table

I don’t want … anything, you say.


We don’t notice the ten am rush as

we measure our words

with resolute precision, stalling

and starting, clinging to script


You disappear into the street, drowning

in the traffic, leaving

me to walk the other way

I wish you’d let me say goodbye.


Linda Brooks completed BA Hons at Southern Cross University (SCU) in 2019. Several of her short stories have been published in anthologies: Coastlines 5, 6 & 7 (SCU), Wood, Bricks & Stone (Catchfire Press), Grieve (Hunter Writer’s Centre) and Longing for Solitude (Stringybark Press). She’s won creative writing awards: first prize for The Legacy University Level Creative Writing Award; first prize in the Gabe Reynaud Creative Writing Award and the Mater Misericordiae Grieve Writing Award. Her poem ‘Leaves’ was published in Seeking the Sun, 2012 anthology by Central Coast Poets Inc. She’s had two short pieces published in The Northerly – Northern Rivers Writers Magazine, ‘Waiting’ and ‘Billy and Me’.


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