— For My Sister
To practice being you: I drink a whole pot of coffee and wander
the aisles of Walmart at 3 a.m. like I’m high on missing teeth;
I act out your cheek-fat exorcisms
in the bathroom while everyone sleeps.
Stabbing at the back of my throat with two fingers,
I look for you in those deaf seconds of retching.
I can’t make myself vomit, but I don’t stop for
twisted ribs. For weeks, I feed myself nothing
but whiskey and boiled onions until
I can’t tell skin from bone. And there you are
in your hospital clothes with your wrists wrapped up.
When Dad and I come to visit, you act like nothing happened.
You make jokes about the food and the middle-aged woman
in the bed opposite yours who talks to the wall all night
like a real crazy person. I must find ways to understand
your hurt, to prove to you it won’t break me.
I heat up the metal mouth of a Bic lighter
and hold it against my wrist.
I spend 72 hours behind the blackout curtains of
a hotel room in Laughlin, Nevada, making
love with a girl who says her arms are filled with fire ants.
She can’t be alone; her arms are filled with fire ants.