I don't cut my skin for 24 hours, then 48
Then a week
Practise abstinence in all forms
No drink, no drugs.
I don't stop my body from jittering and convulsing.
I let myself cry in the shower
Shave my legs without thinking off bleeding
Rest my nose between my mothers worried eyebrows
Kiss her scarred palms
Rub ointment into her feet
And go to bed smelling of lavender and love.
I wake up early, walk round the greenery. I don't open my mouth for 5 hours,
Plant seeds in my mamas garden and meditate where they'll bloom.
I refrain from eating meat. I drink a glass of milk when I wake
A glass before sleep.
I listen to Beyoncé. I watch French films without the subtitles.
I whisper prayers into my sleeping boyfriends neck
I go a whole day without thinking about our dead baby.
Walk to the train station and read the newspaper and never once think about jumping in front
Of my oncoming train.
My estranged father posts a status on Facebook, a joke, about choking dominant woman.
I wake up drunk, my arm sticking to a puddle of dried blood.
Cut chunks of flesh out of my forearm and leave a trail from the liquor store to my fathers gambling shop.
The next day I have a sore head, a sore arm. I starve myself for three days and let myself throw up watery bile into the toilet.
I start again.
I don't pick the scabs from my arm. I let red circular scarred skin form
Draw badly designed tattoos and make empty plans to cover them.
I call my friends, tell them how much I adore them, how beautiful and special they are,
How I never want to live a day without them
They call me cheesy. We laugh and make plans but we're all so busy. We hang up.
I practise excessiveness. Make my boyfriend ******. Laugh loudly. Put on too much makeup and spend £50 to eat out alone.
I call my aunties in Guyana. Let them speak for hours about a 'home' I've never been too.
Listen to stories about my mother, and her mother.
They ask me hushed voices if I'm still ill, tell me my mother has spent hours crying to them over me.
I tell them my plans.
Tell them I have a boyfriend.
I am studying. I am working, and loving and laughing.
They sound glad. They put me on to my dying grandmother and she prays for me
Tells me in strong accent that her children show her pictures of me on the computer
She tells me I am beautiful, so beautiful, she tells me I look just like my father.
Her voice cracks and she praises Jesus for my health.
We say goodbyes. I promise to make more of an effort. Tell her I will visit her soon. Send my love to everyone and hang up.
I start reading two chapters of a book before bed.
Revisit old poetry. Write new words.
Dream in colour again, sing in the shower again.
I drink a glass of wine with my sisters and fall asleep being held by them.
I mute my father on Facebook.
Now we can start again.