The opiod crisis was a crisis for my family long before anyone started reading about it in the nation's headlines.
My sister isn’t a story
A headline missing a name
A front-page shocker
Leaving readers slack-jawed
Spouting words of shame on the internet.
My sister isn’t one to worry
That her life is just a shriveled thread
Bunching and clumping and ripped out by the teeth
Of those who would rather see her dead,
Those who claimed to love her
And keep her, but how close, I dread.
He is the eye of the needle that holds her
Like a mountain lion wrapped around a deer
Her delicate stature, so weak to behold in a hug,
but so stoic in fear.
Bravery isn’t a showcase.
Courage isn’t an award,
for she hides in a pillow
surrounded by feathers,
her shield no more safe than his arms.
And his words lick around her thin body
And his eyes sear her brittle, tinny hair
The less that I see her
The less there is of her
She persists in existence, however queer.
She’ll never leave her hollow, cold hole
of a home for the warmth of the unknown.
For a blanket’s no safer
Than her façade of feathers
And neither can be sewn
around her flightless soul.
She wakes every day, knowing a savior won’t come
Her back breaking down by the millimeter.
And he measures her worth
By a cheap Wal-Mart shirt
And a dose of fentanyl in the arm.
Nobody knows that behind her clothes
Are the holes of the needles
He pierced, like she was an earlobe.
My sister isn’t a drug addict—
not by choice—but by design.
She was prey for the prowler,
Now a willing survivor,
Held captive by her own accord,
A pattern of behavior
that matches the tracks on her body,
though not the frail resistance in her mind.
And it’s fading—
That color that came to the surface—
Every time he opened her eyes.
For he’s closed them
With the liquor
Of the needle and thread
Until he collapsed her spine.
They say the opiod has caused a crisis--
so many bodies too weak to fight it.
All those thin filaments--
sub-genres of humans—
blowing down the streets
by the force of a feeble wind,
covered in the papers
that the news runs in,
and they’re on the front page,
My sister doesn’t have a name.
My sister cannot tell her story.
No one is coming to save her,
even though she’d be safer
on a street
than inside her home.
The statesmen don’t know
That behind her suburban clothes
Is a deer in the mouth of a mountain lion.