It’s a proper summer this year,
we keep all the doors wide open.
The TV complains in static
and sweats in the corner.
The plants give up all hope.
The fire is stuffed with old rubbish,
milk cartoons, egg shells, chicken bones.
The smell has a bad attitude.
The freezer is all choc ices.
We eat one every hour.
Everyone except my sister.
Instead, she descends
into the biggest chaos.
I watch her thump her belly,
stab her thighs with pens.
I watch her smile break.
I watch her push away plate
after plate after plate.
My sister makes morbid sounds
in the bathroom after dinner.
There has been no boyfriend
in months, but she has worn
the tires on our bike smooth.
Her neck is longer than I remember,
and her knees crack when she gets up
in the night to piss and pace the landing.
She becomes confident in upsetting me,
in upsetting my mother, in upsetting
everything she touches, even the dog.
He still tries to love her. Of course he still
tries to love her.
She gets up so early its frightening,
and in her dreams she cries that she just
wants to be small, because then everything
will be ok.
And she doesn’t want to grow up at all,
because she doesn’t want to die.
My sister’s hands are absurdly large.
She is addicted to distancing herself,
and walks as though in a ghostly filter.
I haven’t smelt iron in the bathroom
since summer. There has been nothing
in the bin but cotton buds and food
wrapped in toilet roll.
She only talks a few words a day,
Whatever is in her heart is confidential
We talk in a circle with a stranger.
My sister never looks up,
nothing is ever resolved.
The stranger talks about
the dark wreckage of this family.
And winter moans on,
and the cold keeps coming.
And my sister disappears a little more
My sisters hands are broken claws.
all colour has been evacuated from her face.
She is below feather light, and smells like sulphur,
like hell. No flowers can disguise the crossfire
of her odour when she moves through the house.
I can see the cluster of her spinal
column through whatever she is wearing,
the needle of her neck.
Her mouth is a tight hole,
surrounded by fragments of sores.
Words are rare. Eating is rarer.
The freezer holds no choc ices this year.
She’s delicate as spun sugar, stinking
like she’s already been rotting for weeks.
Then one day, the sun takes her down
and I find her, naked and child small,
terror like a deep scar across her face.