This Will Go Easier If You Can Think of Something to Believe In

Topaz Winters

The girl I was before hunger, & the beast

I became after, & the machine

that kept them both alive. What words

remain for the body in its splintering.

How my father called me unforgivable

& then forgave me. That once

I was extraordinary & when I broke

the surface of the water I was finally real.

The voice in the waiting room walled

behind glass & loudspeaker, who

pronounced my name wrong but

did it kindly, no sir we need to speak

to the patient privately now we will

call you in soon & the last glimpse

of my father frozen in the waiting room

chair as the door to the psychiatrist’s

office closed on him, faraway planet

inexplicably shunted from orbit. How

when the same voice called his name

& his face appeared in the door it was

like he was tasting a ripe pear for

the first time. Or reinventing religion.

That booming voice on the loudspeaker

& the terror on my father’s face.

The relief on my father’s face.

My father’s face. That every violence

I’ve ever known was once smaller

than me. That once the only word we

had for a voice without a face was God.

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