cough

his cough has not gone away today

it rattles in his chest like a ball in a spray-can
untempted by honey, unsoothed by mint
and shakes and rumbles wet as he bends double
a seal's cry in his throat, spilling water in his breath

his cough has not gone away today
it whispers and cracks like the earth in a too-hot summer
dry as the dust, as sharp as the blade
and charges up his throat like a battering ram
tearing down his voice, clawing at his heart

his cough has not gone away today
it shouts like an old man laughing too hard
painful as a stone, loud as a horn
and scrabbles out into the unwelcoming light to breed
choking his words like climbing ivy to speak its own
a whisper turned keen, a fog of fever

his cough has not yet gone away today.