I miss the way you’d wrap around,
fingers like metal fences: Sheltering
me from a world so mean to you,
you believed pain to be the status quo.
I fed on your sleepless nights and stretched
into your lack of vitamins. My spine was
formed by the idea of unfairness
you nurtured,as your hands laid
over the typewriter, burdensome,
watching the day slip from you, the moon
raising white as the paper and jocularly
saying your name
over and over.
I repeated it in a loving manner but
I guess you never heard. It is my daily prayer
and my bedtime benediction, you’re every single
religion I know. I thought I should compete with
you because you raced yourself at anything.

You were never your ideal and the results
were never good. All the other girls
had better faces, better senses and better
places to be. I thought winning you over
was my goal. If only I knew, if only I saw your
face and the way it turned into blackened coils
before the mirror. I kicked your guts thinking
I was a sort of motivational force bubbling,
a right ingredient in a cauldron ready to make magic
but, somehow, it curdled.

Then I began to think I was not special at all.
I was somewhere between you and everyone else.
I’d never be that good. I’d never be that awful.
A 98º fever was not a proud thing to bare. No, you,
you’ve always been over 103º.
You’ve always been the skip-a-beat-experience,
the dream amidst an accident. You’ve always
been the pills over the sink and the half-empty bottle
of gin, the consumed ashes blown away by lips cold
as cherries in the snow. I was a feverish night you
could cure with patience. I was more the chronic pain
than the emergency removal. I was the life support
line and you were 911.
So I left.

By then I was so used to your pain and suffering
that I felt ordinary as everything. Something you
wouldn’t miss for long; a solitary sock, a strained
battery. Like a bee sting that would eventually pierce
your skin, like the knife that invaded your thumb cutting
onions for dinner. I left with a sharp goodbye that I
never considered to leave a scar. You were supposed
to be fine, relieved, weightless. I assumed the things
I brought out along were purging you from the evil
I had been. But the fences lost their stability. You broke
like a tulip stem in winter and we laid, simultaneously
scarred and scared.


                                                                                                     Giulia DeGregorio Listo


Photography by Leanne Crisp

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