My Neighbor

Sep 1, 2021 | 2021 Fall - Bodies, Poetry

By Mariya Shcherbinina

I never got help until it was too late. In fact,
The one who got help was my mom.
The doctor said I didn’t have to come if I didn’t want to
And I gladly grabbed on to that brief liberation
In time of destruction and blood and starvation
And I stayed at home while he talked her into
Letting me go to study abroad, and carry the load
Of the pain of sharing my body with somebody else.

My neighbor is calm only during the night. At daylight,
She’s contradictory, self-important and violent,
She talks over noises of streets and of people
It’s simple: she talks and she takes over everything
A tight ring of iron constricting around the ash of my spine
And the chopsticks that I use for legs.

I beg her to loosen her hold on me, but the devil so made her
That I cannot be free, cannot bear living without her controlling
Owning a part or the hundred per cent of me,
And I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be without her
Every words that she says, it is gospel
And the spell that she casts only recedes at night, and the hunger sets in
And I lean over the table and spill all my tears cause I know
If she hears the rustle of wrappers and the screech of the fork,
I’m done for. But I don’t want to go back to before,

I was out of control. I didn’t know numbers,
I was a bad student and the sum of my food was
Nothing to me and I was a pig and the real girl who everyone says that is me
Was sick, she was the real hopeless case because
She reached for a taste and took the whole spoon
And she groomed herself for a life of freedom
But who wanted freedom when you could have Her,
Living inside that body of yours
And squelching the yearning for what you thought good
I would live without her, and with her I would
Rise to the heights of existence and perch on the crutches
Of legs that support half my weight,
She’s stayed way too long in this body of mine,
Sometimes I feel she is pushing me out,

After all that is what my neighbor’s about,
She gorges on hunger and guilt from my fridge
And singes off fat with a flame of desire
To be better, faster, and stronger…

I’m dying.

She stands in a veil like a widow in mourning.
She looks for a new spouse, I’m never returning,
She’s killed me but the gun is still in her pocket
And there is no force that’s able to stop it
From happening over again to another
Because she is poison, one hell of a lover

If you can’t have food,
You’ll at least have each other.

Mari is a writer and psychologist based in The Netherlands. Her work focuses on the experience of mental health within the LGBTQ+ community.

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