In this powerful and moving piece Kate McAllister describes how she deals with the loss of her brother to suicide and sets out how we can all help to remove the stigma around this kind of bereavement.
This poem tells a very personal experience of the shame associated with stigma. Please note these is some strong language used in this piece.
Sadly, it’s so very fucking true
that the needle of shame explodes a hole beneath skin
far larger than that bulge on his arm
when he missed and hit muscle;
than that hole in my toe from the sharp stranger’s house
bladder full, from the father’s dark car parked
around every corner of memory in shadow-
one more drive down the road of locked doors and I’ll piss myself,
please stop the car let me out
and back in after school or I’ll shit in the garden I swear,
I’ll squat outside the locked gates of the library
so cold on stone steps for long hours of night-
it’s too dark here to read with stiff fingers, no sun,
too early to map a path home.
So look up and across at lit windows awaiting a prophet,
they are watching the watcher awaiting a sign
around the corner, we are waiting for a sign, they say
have faith, have patience,
the light might yet grow brighter,
this next car just might stop.
We must forget these repeated failures of fate to embrace us,
wait again for a word to sound back from the void.
Please can I use the toilet Miss?
Of course I don’t go, paint the glow of the star
a lighter shade of yellow then-
oops! Another stain on the reading corner carpet,
and yes they all know it was you.
So run away quickly, try to find home,
run away fast if you think that you know
-though you know that
you don’t know-
if you did near a home would you run even faster
in search of an owner to run from while stood staring
frozen in headlights,
to know there’s no choice but to punch more black holes
in the bolt for the door, the loose skin of the belt
on the bicep, the throat –
So run away, find a home in the echoed morse code
in the static of stars, the pause between calls
stretches back to the birth of the atom,
that first fractured bang,
those bangs fast expanding
to the whisper of my sister
please don’t leave her there alone again
in the backseat of the car behind closed eyelids lies that city,
smokescreened moaning, softest wool,
a new blank page turned away.
See the slow snow of this second month descend,
seeping down through the veins of generations,
the sound of silence singing hollow
from the hallway behind blue eyes;
he said, ‘no one knows what it’s like,’
and, eyes averted, I agreed.