i. I initiated clapping games
so I could check her wrists to see
if there were any new marks,
and for a long time, there always were.
(it took her until halfway through high school
to start wearing short sleeves again.)
ii. He failed the year because
he missed too many school days
and I knew better to ask why he didn’t go.
(“Hey, uh. Just wanted to say I’m sorry about the whole-“
“Dude, don’t be. Seriously, it’s fine.)
iii. She walked into the lounge to find a teacher
asking her why she hasn’t been to class in three months
and she couldn’t find an answer that didn’t involve
her not being able to find the will
to get out of bed.
(“Hey, I haven’t seen your friend around for a while. Is she sick or something?”
iv. While kissing her stomach, I found marks on her legs:
short, scabbing lines at the base of her thigh,
tucked high where no-one could see.
I made my voice light when I asked what they were
and she shrugged and said, “Depression stuff. I’m fine now.”
(she has other marks, all healing, and I want to smooth them away every time
until she doesn’t feel like she deserves the pain.)
v. There is nothing poetic about the fact
that I know more people on antidepressants
than off them.
vi. There is nothing poetic about the fact
that I remember being thirteen and thinking
that I’m not going to make it to eighteen
without one of my friends being their own cause of death.
vii. There is nothing fucking poetic about
not being able to move from your bed,
nothing poetic about self-inflicted wounds
and not caring enough to cry.