The Unwelcome Visitor


by Sarah Marie Graye


He’s tall and skinny, takes long, silent strides

For some people, he carries knives made of rib 

For others, like me, he arrives quietly, without a hello

With a squeeze and a ripple, he pushes himself through


He’s not the gust that whips up autumn leaves

Nor the icy blast that numbs my cheeks in winter

He’s not the breeze that makes spring flowers dance

Nor the warm summer fug that sits on my shoulders


He’s the extra breath of air that lives within me

Visits are sporadic, occasional, rarely every season

Growing slowly, I feel him press upon my pleura 

Then grumbles and pops, announcing he’s here


Occasionally, he’ll close the door behind him

And leave me of his own accord

But other times the doctor needs to assist him

Leaving tiny incisions between ribs, like footprints


Where he’ll walk again with long, silent strides

Sarah Marie Graye is a PhD candidate on the University of Kent’s Contemporary Novel: Practice as Research programme. She suffers from idiopathic emphysema with focal collapse and fibrosis, and both her research and writing focus on illness narratives.