À La Carte: There is no version of this story in which I come out the other side neurotypical

Last night I dreamt of institutions. A thousand days
of mood stabilizers and shock therapy.
A spoon rolls over my tongue
but I do not gag on the bitterness, my throat
is already full of what everyone else
needs to be comfortable
with me being alive.

//

My grandmother lives in Cuba.
Mother rarely speaks of her.

//
I close my eyes and a puddle forms
inside my skull. Beside it, in a rocking-chair
a bitter old man is braying something at the ooze
about it being one thing to imagine dying
and another to actually try it.

//

She woke one morning
and was gone.
Her body left a year later.
Mother hasn’t seen her in decades.

//

Lately, I’ve been speaking
in some dead or dying language
through an opaque shell
couched atop my shoulders. I scream
and no one hears me. My body is a glass box
I am always staring into. There is always
another room. We could call this place home

and disappear into its wild.

//

I tell my mother I am schizophrenic
just like grandma, and she says
“we don’t know for sure,”
while I watch
as every graveyard
mother dug
begins to fill
with dancing ghosts. Mother—
I am growing you a city in my grief.
This morning I woke
and the puddle had gone.

 

J. David is from Cleveland, OH, and serves as poetry editor for FlyPaper Magazine.