The tension seemed to fuse
his spine to his neck
and he found he couldn’t move,
bracing himself for the words he knew
from the smudge-faced fireman.
His brain felt hollow,
as if all the matter had been extracted
to make space
for the cascade of new information,
fragmentary and wounding as it would be
that he anticipated momentarily.
“Your wife, sir.”
Even as he answered, he recoiled with imminent horror;
and even as he recoiled
he hoped – inanely – that his reaction
would not form part of his
“Your wife, sir,
said to tell you,
she’s at her mothers.”
He wondered if he’d ever move
his neck again.