Epigenetics

“Have you ever thought about killing yourself?”
my mom asked nonchalantly.
“I used to,” she paused over the phone,
“but then I had you and Brandon,
and it just sort of stopped.”

My response was difficult to say out loud;
I am often not convinced I want to stay here.

“It’s just an impulse,” I said, trying to be honest,
letting her in a little bit.
“I know how to cut the leash that keeps me
quarantined
in the forsaken places
my body dumps me.
I am a sage,
a fighter,
a slippery trouble maker.”

I didn’t want to say that I wasn’t sure about the future,
that I hadn’t completely abandoned the idea.
I wanted her to think I was good at living,
getting better at it as an adult.
I didn’t want her to worry.

Brandon and I are in a hotel room
in another country
to bury our mother,
who took a bottle of pills
chased by a bottle of vodka
in a different hotel room,
but not before
she thoughtfully spread a plastic tarp
on the bed
so that the cleaning staff
would have an easier time
changing the sheets.

These are the ways in which my family are thoughtful.

“Have you ever thought about killing yourself?”
my brother asks pointedly.
“Sometimes I worry.”

He is making a late night sandwich
from the groceries we managed to acquire
on a shopping trip in which people kept smiling at us
and asking how we were doing.

I am pouring gin and biting my tongue.
I want to be so drunk that I don’t have to verbalize thought,
that my brother will intuit and accept
that I am deeply ambivalent about living,
but not because I don’t love him.

I suppose that’s what my mother would say.

As it stands I am sweating juniper
but I am still too sober.
I start to answer but I stop.
I start
and stop.
My hands are both cold and hot.

I find myself trying to wrestle with logic.
“Well, it’s likely I would have,
maybe,
but now things are different.
I couldn’t do that to you.
Not after this.”

I see the words leave my mouth
but I don’t believe them.

I don’t want anybody to worry.

That’s what my mom kept saying.

These are the ways in which my family are thoughtful.

The thing about silence is that
it’s never quiet,
just like to be mute
is not to be unintelligible.

Sometimes making sense is a fool’s journey,
and sometimes,
some of us,
the irresolute,
don’t want to make sense.
There is no good response to the question
how are you today?
There is no guaranteed outcome
of navigating this indecision.

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