Poetry

Cracks

Years pass and I am drunk on wholeness.
Laughter sticks to my throat like honey,
sickly sweet. False tenderness, like
her mouth on mine, consumes me,
and I am better, I am blank, I am waiting
for Real Life to start.
I have been pumped full of health,
it pulses, thick and sluggish, in my veins,
keeps me listless, stupefied, smiling.
I have been patched up,
sewn back together.

Alone, I cry on my bedroom floor,
clutching old jeans, old dresses,
old fragments of sickness
that I refuse to throw away.
I stare at the thin white lines
on my shoulders, my thighs –
threads that once bled now
holding me together – and I am better.
I am happy and strong and whole.
I am full, full, full.
I am waiting for the seams to split.

My mother’s voice is a gentle song,
a powdery embrace, a loving sigh:
white wings on a hyacinth sky.
She is complacent, unafraid
to look me directly in the eye;
she knows now that she won’t find
the festering darkness, rancid fog,
the weeping wounds of hatred there.
Not anymore.

But if she spots a trace, a hint,
a speck of dark, lingering
in the red-rimmed whites,
she smiles, she pats my strong and
healthy arm, she pronounces:
‘Life isn’t that hard’. No,
life isn’t that hard.
Her words are venom.
She sleeps peacefully at night.
She hugs me carelessly,
without feeling for bones.

I remember the deep, bruise-like hollows
beneath my dull eyes, the sickly yellow tinge
to my skin, the agony of my muscles
disintegrating as I lay awake at night,
unable to sleep. I remember the worry
in the twists of my friends’ mouths,
the secrets and lies that warped my own,
and I shiver with nostalgia of the blood,
surging under my skin, carrying memories
of an ill-fitting body, a nervous mind,
and it is warm, comforting. I sink into it.

I find myself ravenous, aching
for emptiness, desperate
for my flesh to dissolve, willing
my body to chew and tear and consume
itself, to swallow itself whole,
to leave me disembodied, incorporeal,
celestial, ethereal, ghostly,
measured not by presence but
by absence, by light shining through
expanses that ring with vacancy.
I am waiting, longing for Nothingness.

And the cracks grow with urgency,
painting blueprints for disease,
destruction, deterioration
on the walls of my mind.
And I can’t wait anymore.
I dig my fingers through skin, into flesh.
I feel the stitches tear loose one by one.
I grasp great handfuls of Muchness,
and I rip myself open. I fold myself
inside out. I purge health and vitality
and strength from my body;
I savour the way it burns my throat.

I am guilty, and I am sorry,
but I am far too much, and I will keep
tearing at the cracks, until
I am not enough
again.

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