My living room window
looks down on the pavement.
from time to time I see her
or with people she pretends
are her friends
but she has reached the stage
where there are only aquaintances,
useful contacts to help her reach more contacts,
or to accuse and blame
whenever her psychosis takes over.
once, she had beauty, dress sense,
her own individual preferences.
as her brain began to fry
her style slipped away,
and her modesty
in the early days of her twin diagnoses,
she regularly swallowed the pills
to moderate her bi-polar mood swings;
we were still reeling from the shock of realisation
that there was nothing anyone would do
about the atypical autism,
and she said she didn’t want
to be the crazy woman
that people stare at in the street.
but that is what my lovely one
she’s given up the anti-psychotics.
now she sticks with heroin and amphetamines.
she’s lost all grip on self-preservation.
her addictions are expensive,
but even now, grey skinned and anorexic,
she has ways to make a buck.
three years ago she got wise;
good advertising is the secret,
professional, promising discretion.
it’s the one thing she gets right.
I imagine her clients are horrified
when they see what they have hired,
and there’s little possibility of repeat custom,
particularly at that extortionate price.
She is my offspring,
and it may seem disrespectful to speak of her this way,
but please understand addiction has taken her
and she was sick anyway.
sometimes I wonder if my little girl
still exists inside that ravaged frame.
but like the child in the Exorcist,
taken over by a sadistic Devil,
in my heart I know she’s
struggling, deep inside.
Most of the time,
I long for my daughter’s recovery.
but in less selfish moments
I wish her eternal peace,
no matter how painful that will be for me.
I tell myself she is beyond feeling,
but I know it isn’t true.
her only escape from utter misery
is to switch off the signals to the brain,
or to rant and rage,
to rail against the world and its family.
there is nothing I can do to help her.
even offering her my love, which I must,
doesn’t alleviate her pain, or mine.
It simply clicks a switch in her brain,
making her more angry,
and yet more insane.
©Jane Paterson Basil