As a girl, you used to paint,
low on the walls in corners of your room,
tiny trees and flowers, undetected.
Soon boarding school called;
I was left to rearrange
the furniture, unearth your garden. We spoke
later; you laughed at the standoffs
that sparked those small
rebellions. Such colorful pictures
defiantly raised your young
psyche. Yet you haven’t outgrown
the consolation of such things:
now eighteen, home from school,
I hear you slip nights
into the bathroom — the one I can’t bear
to enter for the mess — and crouch
on the floor in the corner. Now
instead of producing, you peel
the paper. Flowers fall off
in little strips leaving, beneath,
bare blue walls.
I knew my body would
betray me as I aged, yet death
is not the mid-life crisis I’d expected.
But what I’m most sorry for
is what my illness does to us:
strips me by layers of physical strength,
peels you slowly in little
emotional strips until
all that’s left is bare and blue.
Yet you are the unlucky one:
soon my turn will come to go.
But you will remain and be forced
to rearrange, unable to speak
with me about things you may
happen to suddenly unearth.