You are half the woman you used to be.
You sit in your fancy new jumper
like a freshly wrapped present.
When I put my arms around you
I meet only resistance:
thin skin and bone, not soft warm flesh.
You are hawk-like, ancient. You used
to demand more space. Are all these people
sitting here—are they half-people too?
That would explain their silence, while they try
to remember themselves: Astrong arm here,
a quick wit there—days spent retracing
a past littered with clues.
And you? When did you start to simply disappear?
Was it when your sister died? Or was it when we left,
one by one, and damp ballooned inside our empty rooms.
You are so small. In no time at all
I could pick you up—quietly, like—and slip you into my bag.
I’d take care not to break you—you are fragile, after all.
I could take you home and feed you, stroke your bony skull,
and maybe you would blossom, unfurl from where you hide
the twelve-stone country woman
who once picked mushrooms at dawn.
But meanwhile you plan your own vanishing act.
You set the scene:
early morning, a nurse bustles in.
She pauses at the door, takes in
the unmade bed. All you’ve left
is the jumper, pale-pink beads around the neck.