Poison

When I was a child,

I thought poison

Was something you’d find

In my parents’ cupboard

With all the bandaids

And medicine and things.

Turns out that poison

Is not green and filthy,

Not marked with a skull

And a pair of cross bones.

It’s what I drink when I toast

To my best friend’s health.

It’s what I drown in

When I’m drowning in the world.

Poison does not taste like poison;

It tastes rather sweet at first.

You might not even notice

That you’re drinking it.

Perhaps they spoon-feed it to you.

Slowly, over the years,

So that you don’t notice.

But instead of building up

Antibodies,

Your body betrays you.

It breaks down.

You break down.

And your demise is a slow one.

It turns out that poison

Is not the color of an odious green—

On the contrary,

It is clear as holy water.

Perhaps that is why

These two things

Are so easily mistaken for one another.

It is what I drink

When I am feeling sad.

I nurse a cup of it

And pretend it’s the world’s fault,

And not my own.

If only people were kinder!

I think to myself.

I am selfish bastard,

For I am not kind.

I am not different from the ‘world’.

I am the world.

Poison is what fills my mouth

When we are fighting.

When he glares at me,

And I glare right back.

I spew it at him, words,

Holy water, regret, rage—

I spew all of this at him and more.

It is not his fault

That I am so angry.

It is my own fault.

(I am the world.)

That does not stop me

From screaming at him.

And when the poison stings his face,

He is screaming too.

His skin melts away

Until he is no more than bones

And raw, red sinew,

And the cross that hangs round his neck.

There you have it:

The cross bones.

I didn’t mean to break him,

People rarely do,

But what’s done is done,

And we can’t go back.

I still try, though.

I bend over his corpse

And try to suck the poison from his veins.

It fills my mouth a second time.

And I weep, for he does not return.

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