Listen To My Pain, Lily - Poem by Katherine Coolage
I want to talk to you right now, Lily. I really do.
I need someone to talk to,
and you're the only one I can trust.
I'm in my basement, now.
Crying where no one can see my tears.
They wouldn't understand.
I take long baths, Lily, but only one a day.
They start to look at you strange if you take more than that.
I sit in the steaming water,
so hot that I have to lean over the edge
so that only my ankles are submerged, and read.
And when I get out the water is freezing cold,
and I wash quickly because I can bear it no longer,
and I know that the real world misses me.
It has knocked on the bathroom door at least twice,
and told me again that there is no reason the door should be locked.
But there is- the real world must not invade my sanctuary,
and a locked door keeps it at bay for several hours.
How often do you cry, Lily?
And what do you cry about?
I cry about my family, and for my family, and sometimes,
when I'm feeling particularly translucent, to my family.
And they coo and make comforting noises,
and assure me that nothing is wrong,
and because I'm already crying I'm too weak to disagree.
And the next day I cry again about the same problems,
but don't go back to my family.
They can't understand, and they won't understand,
because it's easier to stay confused than to fix what is broken.
The basement is cool, and dark.
Somehow the damp shadows embrace me.
They are formless, and I seem flesh and blood,
but they know that somehow, deep down, we're the same.
The man on the radio has a soft voice.
He talks about the weather, and the news,
and problems in countries far away that are much worse than mine.
The washer vibrates loudly. I like the tune, the rhythm.
Its music sounds nice with the man's soft voice on the radio.
And somewhere in the background, something scuttles.
It creeps from shadow to shadow,
scooping up the left-behinds that bigger, bolder creatures leave.
These are my people.
My wonderful, beautiful, and somehow, more real, people.
They have nothing to hide, they look just how they are,
and the gentle murmur of their realness
drowns out the lies and pain coming from upstairs.
I miss you, Lily.
I miss you, Ariella.
And I miss what once was, my family.
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