i know you won't admit it, won't say it pleases you, but i see your smile when i do things with you and like the things you like, a tiny smile that's soft at the edges and utterly honest

//trigger warnings for referenced/implied self-harm and graphic discussion of eating disorders

your voice is the sound of breaking glass
of things you can't fix 
and skeletons clattering their bones in an approximation of tone

i always loved you more than you loved me 
and have never begged bitterness from it 
that isn't the way i was raised and we both know it 

and you 
were nothing more than a spectre for most of my childhood
young days when my palms were bigger than your knees 
the span of my neck wider than your calves 
i wonder why you never said anything about the softness of my body 
but i suppose ruining your own was enough for you

i don't mean to resent you for it 
i know it wasn't your fault 

the song of forks scraping on empty plates 
and the ticking of the needle on the scale 
accompanied by the creak of your step up to it 
and water landing in the well of your hollow stomach 

this was the lullaby you taught me to recognize 

and i can't help but see it every day 
when plastic girls fiddle with plastic spoons
poke at salads 
feign disinterest at the thought of food for their starving body 
as their flesh calls out for sustenance 

and cookies at lunchtime 
the stale smell of vomit in middle school bathrooms 
glitter painting their toenails and the bottom of their tongue 
lies painted in the form of oh, i ate earlier 
or i had a large breakfast 

you make me see you in skeletal reflections
shrinking women 
and your sickness is shoved at me by media gods desperate for validation 
demanding supplication 
consuming the sacrificed females our society offers up to them
we are whittled down to nothingness 

and you are the one that i learned it from 
not quite the illness
but the quick familiarity 

so when girls titter, 
chatter idly like birds clacking beaks in an attempt to stay with the flock
stay with the flock because stragglers die off in every world including our own

when they whisper about concave stomachs 
and baby fat
and compare weights like they'd compare nails
numbers a contest of who can exist the least

and when they do all those things, 
cultivate the culture of eat-less be-better 
i cannot help but choke on the visions of you 
your haunted eyes as scraped clean as your throat 
pills rolling in a marching band of meds 
because you bled your sins just like i do 

they figured out what was wrong with you
i handed them the diet coke bread crumb trail that they couldn't find themselves 
and i will never be able to get rid of that part of myself 
the part that told our mother that you, 
you were sick and you couldn't fix yourself 

that something was wrong and that something was turning you inhuman 
(dead, i never said, dead dead dead) 

so you went to therapy and downed the cocktails they fed you 
mixes of drugs and prescriptions until something made you just a little bit more you 
and now you're back 
not completely 
but enough that we can pretend you're okay

but i cannot claim 
that i always loved you for as long as i have lived 
if only because for a long time, 
there was nothing to love. 

and i know 
that some desperate, distant piece of me 
wishes you would pick up on the wrong-frequency signal
that i send out when the world collapses 
and i am a crushed atlas 
waiting for pillars to be put in their shaky places
so that i can heave it all back on my shoulders and wait until i die 

catching the next train to depression,
station two on line six

so to my sister, 
the Make-Up Criminal, broken and flawed and for a long time hungry
(for love and attention and food and self-acceptance)
i want you to realize 
if nothing else, 

that i love you. 

The End

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