My sister, the story

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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,

the headline.

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.

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