Today’s poem, written this morning. Rough first draft.
You are fearless
for all of the wrong reasons.
You run marathons over black ice,
drink hot water straight from the kettle,
put handfuls of chilli powder on your salad.
Every night I can hear the thick crunch
of your muscles through my bedroom wall,
as you sit up and down and up and down.
One day, I caught you placing quartz crystals in
the hollows of your collarbones, and photographing
your visage for Tumblr. You smiled at me with eyes
that look as though they’ve seen a thousand thousand lives.
Twelve hours later, you told me your photo had been
re-blogged 37,000 times and counting. I didn’t tell you
that the quartz crystals were supposed to be clear, not murky.
I didn’t tell you that the negativity of your illness
had leached them of all of their energy.
You’re shaved the lanugo from your arms so they’re
porcelain smooth. I’m scared that sooner rather than
later you’ll get in the shower and your weak body
will dissolve under the water pressure.
Our parents have become too scared to say anything,
lest you purse your purple lips, pack a bag and leave.
Dad turns the heating off when you demand it,
and we sit, uncomfortably chilled in the living room,
while you become thinner and thinner upstairs.
When we talk about you, we whisper.
Mum talks about how she’s scared of looking
at you the wrong way. Dad says you scare him
haunting the hallways after midnight, pacing
and lunging and muttering numbers ghoulishly
under your breath. I say how I’m scared
that if you cut your wrists, the blood will run clear
and I won’t know if you’re dead or still here.
For months, you hover between life and death,
a weak, glass delicate moth, not willing to land,
not willing to rest and recover.
I am homesick for your old self.
And then, one morning midwinter, you’re gone.
Though it looks as though your last night might
have been comfortable, for the bed covers
are pulled up over your chin.