The Diagnosis

We all lower our voices a notch
when we speak of it,
but our eyes keep straying back
to where he sits,
that stranger assuming the name
of someone we know.

For those who haven’t yet heard,
we take them aside,
nod in his direction and whisper:
Don’t look now,
but when you get the opportunity,
he’s the one over there.

And later, when the conversation
becomes more open,
the topic of discussion something
to laugh about,
even then, stealing a quick peek,
we wonder about him.

After all, one can’t help but be
morbidly fascinated,
for while he still tries to join in,
that look of fear
in his eyes now sets him apart.
He’s become a diagnosis.

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