Memories of my Brother

I decided I would challenge myself to write a poem for my brother every day this month and this is the result. It is rough and rugged and it is a mere work-in-progress but I'm just writing down stuff I want to say.

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18. XVIII

Anorexia
They said
And smiled an ohsoclammmyandinfinitelycondescending
Smile
And we shook our stunned heads
To rid them of shellshock.

I wasn't actually there
I'm imagining it
Because I was told by our cracked-plate Mum
When I came home from school
And ate a piece of lemon drizzle cake.

You ought to have come before
They said
And we tried to claw the water out of our ears
Because we must have heard it wrong
Because boys didn't get anorexia
Wrong patient, wrong label.

I wasn't actually there.
I'm imagining it
Because I'd been toying so far out in the ocean
That I never noticed that
You'd used the sand to fill your lungs
With depression when you were thirteen.

Not possible.

And I think that there was a tiny rotted part of me
Which also held up its hands in protest
But not for your sake
Because that rotted part of me said that
I was the ballerina
And I was the vegetarian
And I was meant to be the one
Who forced tendons forwards
Through receding skin
The one to bend hip bones into skewers
Which could splice away the flesh
And retire beautifully,
Gracefully beneath the clenching tendrils
Of my skin.

And that same tiny rotted part of me
Allowed itself to decide,
When you were sectioned and removed,
That it was better that way
Because I got to live once more without
Anorexia standing on my toes
And because I got to be noticed
For once.

And for this tiny rotted part of me
And for you
I’ve drowned myself in guilt eight times over.

This is it
My ninth life and I’m waiting for you
To grab me back with forgiveness for sins
You never realised that I committed.

I gave up speaking to you when we visited
Because you never had the strength to lift your head
And so conversed as though the plasticised floor
Offered you higher quality compassion
And had a better hold of your interest
Than I ever could
And do you know how shit that made me feel?
And it was in those moments that I felt
The rot spread deeper
Because you always had to be smaller
And your voice had to match you
So you crushed it back into your throat
Until I could no longer hear the pointless answers
To the pointless questions
Of my small talk
And when we stopped talking
There was not really very much more silence
Than when we spoke
So I began to think it would be possible
For your whole body to starve itself out all together
Without us noticing
Because once your voice was gone
And your mind was hijacked
The little rotten part of me
Told me that you weren’t real anymore

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