Bloodlines

My sister would have been 29 today

 

I wander streets you’ve never heard of

Couldn’t place on a map

But you’d have gone here in a heartbeat

Given the chance

 

I remember your habits

Soft hair, and eyes like a lioness

Invulnerable

I wanted to be you

 

You left before we knew you’d gone

I’ve got a decade on you now, and more

It doesn’t matter

You’re still older than me

Borders

I hesitate when buying wine
Unable to remember what country I’m in
So what bank card I should be using
And I can’t find the SIM card
For the phone that I use Over There

(Which I’ve accidentally referred to as “Home”
Three times now.)

But I have been stretch stretch stretched
Across borders and oceans
From Scotland to the Mediterranean
To the Americas and further, further
South

And a man who I adore sounds exactly like home
And another I care for sounds nothing like it
And a third, a girl, with tight dark curls
Inherited from her Jewish babcia
Speaks to me a mix of Yiddish and New York slang

Belonging is an odd concept
I’ve always just drawn voices together
Different tongues, languages, dialects
My heart makes its home in all of them
The only way it knows how

Marlow

-Are you ok?

In the kitchen, gasping for breathing space.

-Feeling pretty weird.

I think of all the men he reminds me of. Men with blue-green-grey eyes who understood my language.

Except here, when I try to speak, my words turn strange in my mouth, come out clumsy, jarred and wrong, and he’s looking at me in that way that makes me feel like I shouldn’t be here at all, and I wonder when I lost myself.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been found.

I tell him:

-I know my flaws.

He responds:

-No one can know all of their flaws.

I wonder who the fuck he thinks he is to tell me what I can and can’t know about my own mind.

I wonder how he is able to make me feel so boring.

-I’m sorry.

-You have nothing to apologise for.

He’s looking at me the way men do when they want you to know that you deserve what happens to you.

I have died so many times.

I don’t know how to stop.

I want to leave now.

But the subway closed two hours ago, and I could go to another friend’s house but I don’t want to be dramatic.

The first time they starved me.

My bones jutted from my skin,

face sunken and gaunt.

I want to cry but I don’t want to cause a scene.

The second one tore through my entrails

Taking my right lung and most of my lower abdomen

But thankfully leaving my heart

Intact

He tells me that his favourite book is by Lady Lazarus. I try not to laugh at the irony.

The third held me just below the surface

Drowning for two years

Until I woke up near dry land

Begging for someone to breathe the life back into me.

I’m doing an excellent impression of unrequited love, so good it’s fooling myself, but the reality is sicker than that, and anyway, I can’t love, I’m not even breathing.

So what’s it going to be this time?

Sentinel. He is stall worthy and kind, and I am a complete fucking mess.

And I wonder if he knows that I’m not real. That the woman he’s speaking to has been stuck in the mind of an 11 year old for 12 years now.

But people don’t tend to question these things.

Don’t come near me, don’t touch me.

I will break you without meaning to.