Black drenches her feet,
swirls around, like it will swallow her whole,
to inky dark that traps thoughts dead in their tracks,
paralyses, even when she sees a way out.

Sure what has she to be complaining about?,
she hears them whisper in spits of something like envy,
masked as indifference on their stupid faces,
drinking tea from china cups like they’re fucking queens.

They don’t know the black hours
before dawn, when sleep won’t come,
when thoughts play havoc with her head,
and she’d sell her heart just to get some peace.

They don’t know how blank she feels,
how she sticks her nails in her arms,
leaves a mark, just to feel something,
pulls her sleeves down to cover up.

They don’t know the worry she feels,
that they’ll say she’s making it up,
just to get the a􏰀ention she craves.
She tells herself sometimes it’s all lies, wishes it was.

They don’t know how she drinks
to drown out the voices that whine in her head,
how she smiles at handsome men,
and they smile back and come to talk like she knew they would.

She pretends not to notice their player eyes,
darting around the bar, for a be􏰀er catch.
She laughs and touches their arm and chest enough,
to reel them in, to get their affection, for the night at least.

They don’t know how she stood on a balcony wall,
high above the cobbled streets, only the night porter
banging on the door gets her down. She doesn’t know
if she would have jumped, thinks she would have.

She knows now how to keep steady most of the time,
how to retreat when she feels it coming on,
to give herself space, to write or paint it out,
to scream and cry and laugh hysterically.

She sees others fall away into the black
where she was and where she still remembers.
Sometimes in her dreams she’s there again,
she screams but no one hears.

She calls him then in the middle of the night,
he listens to her scared voice, tells her it’s okay.
He wishes he was there and so does she.
She knows, believes, the black can’t get her now.

*published in Other Things I Didn’t Tell