By Sophie Capern
I know I scream at you, curse your non-skin, your explosions, but today I need to whisper lightly and say:
Thank you for protecting me; without you, eating me from the inside out, I could never have known. I would never have known the skin was a mask, or the porridge had poison, or that my neck really was breaking under the weight even though I was holding feathers. Without you moving my stomach - shit, piss, vomit, sweat – my body would have floated away. You anchor me on my own shore even if the sand feels too heavy under my feet, at least I know it’s there. You tell me through stomach snakes that my ocean knows better than a plastic cup in a waiting room, you’re not poisonous but the water cooler is, the salt just stings a bit that’s all but it’s supposed to if you’re red.
You make me look around and see ghosts and bodies carrying those ghosts on their backs and frequencies that go unheard. Your dog whistle is at a pitch only my ears can hear but it’s a pitch all the same, and it tells me: ‘look, look at that person’s ghost and need.’
Sometimes I see you as myself but other times I think you’ve possessed me. You scare me, like a shadow on my back telling me to be afraid. I watch horror films and they resonate late at night because the different voices are like you but then I see my face on your no-face and you’re saying ‘listen’ just…. ‘listen’ and I do and you hold me and the hard world feels harder but you know I need to keep my soft and you’re cracking the shell I’m trying to build, you /crack/crack/crack it until I can’t not-crack and I turn to rotten fruit trees and I realise – it’s you I can trust. You’re just fearing my misplaced lens looking out at their cardboard faces. ‘The gaze is wrong,’ you say, making my palms sweat, ‘come back to your salt, come back to your own chest I’m calling you home.’
I know you were born from split, from a mother and father who spat and cursed a child, I know you speak to me the way you do because you’re clung on my back rather than snug tightly in my chest they pushed you from. They disjointed you from me – but you can’t help the way you speak and weigh and whisper you were born from a volcano and you only know fire. You breathe fire into me and on me when you say ‘this is right’ it burns, but you are a living thing born in and for me – a not-ghost – a baby who knows best from a place that was never nurtured as it should have been. You were taken from inside of me and placed outside as an enemy, a backpack of flesh too heavy.
You make the world overwhelming, you say: ‘see this see that’, and I can see all of it and feel it and I am a sponge.’ I feel yellow when they point their fingers at you/me, when they point it at us and our holes and our absorption feels like nakedness in a clothing store and then you burn and burn and I point my finger at you screaming for you to leave and never come back and I just wanted you to know.
You build me up through fire and I am making space for you in my chest where the others have stood, aliens filling your bedroom and sheets.
You can come home now.