All I ever wanted was to crave you,
to filter out the hollow caves
and crashing waves of sound,
to leave the shore for the depths
All I wanted was to swallow you whole,
but you’re barely a mouthful,
barely a breath,
There is no point in me writing this poem, because
you have already written it yourself,
in your head
or else the papers have written it for you
in their solid black headlines, their grimy stock photos
Imagine a face. What colour is it?
Imagine a pair of shoes. A shirt. A dirt path.
Imagine a helping hand. What colour is it?
Even as you read this, you know that it is written in white ink.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that makes it neutral.
No-one in my family will admit that my sister has an eating disorder. It’s just how things are with us, I think. Once I had a therapist ask who I’d phone in a crisis – I like that, “crisis”, that little verbal sleight-of-hand that both covers and implies all the falling apart, bullet in glass, vomit and blood awfulness that a crisis actually involves. I said I’d phone the Samaritans.
do you remember walking on the beach together
the wind was a thin wail, numbing us,
carding cold fingers through our hair
until you were blue with it.
the tide sliding out until
wreckage and bits of driftwood rose out of the water
like bones shyly showing through skin.
please eat, i wanted to tell you,
please, just eat.
but you could no more just eat
than i could swallow the entire sea.
I pass through the barbed-wire fence like a ghost,
go unnoticed by the sniffer dogs and the border officers
with their masked faces, their canisters of tear gas,
and am welcomed onto the ferry
by a smiling P&O hostess.
Darling, I’m sorry; I broke
and started smoking again,
even though lung cancer killed your aunt
and we hear the hacking start of it
in your mother’s breathing now. Continue reading “Confession”