You grow up in a family of two.
as your mom called you since before you opened your eyes to the world.
You see photos of the family of three you never were
in the photo albums your mom shows you,
but who is that man holding you?
You know the answer already,
as you see those eyes whenever you glance in a mirror,
but he lives almost exclusively in your memory.
Whenever he visits,
he attempts to exercise the control over you that he believes he has,
and you dismiss him openly.
"You're not my mom, I don't have to listen to you,"
you reply, as mouthy as would make your mom proud.
He spirals in anger each time,
though you're never sure why,
shouldn't he know by now that she taught you
that her word comes before that of a stranger?
When you're seven years old,
your mom tells you that he's having another baby,
and you tell her you want to sue him like any kid would.
"How can he look after another baby when he couldn't look after me?"
you ask, and your mom doesn't give you a satisfying answer.
your grandmother on his side slips away from you,
and before you know it the whole family follows.
They made sure to be steady figures in your brother’s life,
from the very moment they learned of him.
They leave you wondering if you were always second-best,
even before there was a second to begin with.
When he and your mom attempt to mend fences,
and she hands you the phone to speak to him for the first time since,
you feel a cinderblock where your heart should be.
You ask yourself why none of your other friends
have ever had to get to know their fathers.
Even through a number of phone calls
during the longest period of time he ever stuck around for,
most of what you know about him comes from your mom's memory.
When he comes to see you again
and introduce the apple of his family's eye,
you smell the liquor on him.
Even when he gets out of the car.
When you confront him over the phone
he tells you that vodka and beer smell the same,
clearly forgetting that even thirteen year old girls
know what nail polish remover smells like.
You laugh when he screams and calls you a lying bitch,
and you lose track
of how many tombstones have been left in your ribcage already.
You do not mourn him
because you do not care when someone you don’t know dies.
When your first love adds to the graveyard of those who are dead to you,
and everything you looked so forward to
slips through your fingers like it was never there to begin with,
you start to wonder if family has ever had a place in your life.
Maybe you just aren’t worth one.
You are the girl your father didn't want, remember?
The girl your grandmother abandoned,
the girl whose aunts could never make time for her,
the girl who was never good enough to love like family is supposed to.
Always the afterthought,
always tossed aside as soon as holding on became inconvenient.
You finally understand the anger you inherited so naturally,
and you hate yourself for how much you feel like him.
Slowly you notice your friends traipsing away,
until only one stands beside you.
The voice of the little girl you once were echoes in your head,
“You, the girl whose closest companions
are the headstones she carries with her,
have never been worth staying for.”
When you lose yourself
in all the boys that give you half-assed attention,
your friends warn you that this is the fate
of many girls with “daddy issues”,
which confuses you.
How can someone who’s never existed leave this kind of hole in your life?
You laugh and tell them that your father left no such impression on you,
but Father’s Day is still your least favourite day of the year.
Maybe you didn’t inherit his jealousy or the chip on his shoulder,
but your addictive personality and thirst for vengeance
certainly didn’t come from your mom.
You note the graves with resentment,
and discover that scaring people away makes it hurt less
when you have another body to bury.
Making yourself a monster makes it easier to grieve,
so you scorch all the bridges you walked on that will let you burn them,
and somehow the quiet that you’re left with feels so right.
Like at last the prophecy was fulfilled,
and you’re left vindicated and self-sabotaged
as you were always meant to be.
A victor in an empty castle,
a queen who wears a crown of bone and used-up matchsticks.
Somewhere along the line
you carve your own name into one of the graves.
You don’t forget to include his last name
that you had no choice in sharing,
and you bury yourself alive.
There’s no place for her here anymore.
Nobody should ask themselves why you’re so comfortable with the dead.
Nobody should ask themselves why you’re so goddamn cold,
or why you’ve never cried at a funeral before.
You attended more wakes in the silence of your bedroom
than you ever have birthday parties.
Do not ask yourself why goodbye is such an easy word for me to say.
Do not ask yourself why I can’t help but cry
over every man that has ever left me,
even those who have been dead to me for years.
Do not ask yourself why even in bliss,
I still can’t help but look for my forever elsewhere,
or why I dive right in while still keeping one foot out the door.
I am the girl whose father couldn’t love her more than he loved revenge,
and rubbed it in her face every time he crawled his way up from the dirt.
I am the girl whose true loves always wanted someone else
more than they ever wanted me.
I am the girl whose heart is a haunted house,
and maybe I’m the only one who isn’t scared of me
because I spend my life walking among the dead.
and maybe the reason the people who aren’t scared to enter
do because they just can’t see them.
The girl I buried there still waits,
and she sits up every night
carving the names of everyone I love into stone.
She smiles while she does it like the monster she is,
and I always ask her why.
“If I tell myself they’re never going to stay in the first place,”
she whispers to me,
“when they don’t, and the dust settles
and the service ends,
at least I’m right.”