I almost don’t dare speak of the
all-consuming darkness, the voice that
utters “Liz killed herself,” at my lowest.
It remarks as if a taunt, past tense
to show I have no power over it,
trying to force me into submission,
saying death is my only fate.
I fight this voice with arguments
strong enough to make it slither
back into the shadows where it lurks
I come from a history of suicides.
My mother’s father was a boy, waiting
for his mother to come home.
She called him on a telephone
where she’d been studying art,
and told him that she was coming for
This would be the last time
he heard her voice.
He waited on the front-porch
steps, not daring to miss her arrival,
with his little sister, my great aunt,
Anne. Just the image of a small boy
holding to a promise,
like a melting popsicle,
waiting all day long
in front of a house
full of people who did
not want him–his family, my family.
I think about my son, my ginger boy,
sitting on my porch steps,
aglow with freckles and
bouncing with the excitement he
shows when he sees me,
waiting for me to pull into
the driveway, his sister
bossing him to quit fidgeting.
Any notion of a
one-way ticket out
is forcefully rejected from my
I think about my great-grandfather
who only saw one way out of
the treatments for cancer, and
didn’t want to become a burden on
He will never see how
she carried the burden of him taking
his own life in a chair, where she
told him to wait
so she could get a drink
She described the trickle
of blood down the left-side of his face
to me when I was six.
I think of my friend, whose mother
killed herself when she was a child,
how it darkened her soul, and made
my friend question her own worth.
She had to relive it with
who we’d seen, spoken
to, hugged, been comforted by
and cried on, not
two weeks prior to her final act.
It was a shock to know someone,
we really didn’t.
I recant these happenings, not to guilt,
but to consider the repercussions
of a single bullet,
and how fast it undoes everything.
It isn’t selfishness, it’s a battle,
and not everyone will understand.
These accounts keep me alive because
I have a strong sense of duty,
and I learned to use it for myself, against myself.
I know how to stop me.
How do you stop yourself?