Jane Blaikie

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Progressive bulbar palsy

doesn't exactly trip off the tongue — matter of fact, trips up the tongue.
It's a bad trip, a maverick bus, terminus 14 to 18 months from diagnosis.
First the tongue, then travelling south, it will take his breath away.
Explain it ‘like Stephen Hawking’, except Stephen's on the slow coach,
the double-decker, by way of a scenic route. Dave rides express
but he's hauled the cord, wrangled some extra time (a year or more).
Call it hippy shit — visualisations — every cloud, plant, landscape
a metaphor for the stem cells he knows his brain can make.
Yesterday's cloud, an actual one, becomes a spreading, tessellating
fibrous network of new cells that reach affected limbs, the failing tongue.
On his way home from friends, an oncoming truck carries a tangle of dead
supplejack: departing damaged neurons. Later he injects green tea extract
(home-made) through a peg in his gut, and tincture of pine-tree bark.
But coffee has the last line: It helps a lot.

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