"Crawfish" by Charity Mack


United States
30° 28' 59.8404" N, 91° 3' 48.2472" W

At a crawfish boil I cannot fully make peace
With myself because I have frequent flashbacks
Of spring break in April of 2005 when I waited for my big
Sister Tori in that red and yellow sunset
For 3 days straight

Each day, Tori treated her siblings to
Crawfish as if it were the Last Supper.
On that last evening I observed her as she
Pranced into the kitchen like a toddler
Receiving an Easter basket full of slightly
Melted candy except she had this heavy
Burden buried beneath the bulging blue, black
Bags sagging under her dark desperate eyes
Her hands…clenched around the Tony’s Seafood
Brown paper bag like claws securing 10 pounds
Of secrets…she snapped at us… for being too greedy
But I was just hungry for her attention because
I sensed that…something was wrong when I caught
Her eyes… fixed in bewilderment as if someone
Had dumped her into a pot of boiling water
Surfacing the beginning of an awakening.
And I could never dream of the day that someone
Could make the phrase “You are what you eat”
Rapidly resurrect in front of my own eyes
I often wonder did Tori ever notice that she
Was being carefully seasoned with: a sprinkle of
Alcohol to fit in, a dash of Kush to cushion her
Anxiety, a hint of crack… in her self-respect
A pinch of pills to heal the symptoms of neglect
After feeling rejected by the mixture of fists
Stirring into her beautiful 23 year old face as
Her drug dealing boyfriend Mark would simultaneously
Beat her until she was too blind to find a way out
Of her internal afflictions.
See Tori… was only hard…on the outside

Yet it was hell to watch Tori boiling in that sterling
Silver pot of bipolar schizophrenia while
Grappling on to the thin rim of
Reality then drowning, slowly slipping away in
Her own imagination. Tori submerged in multiple
Episodes. Her eyes would roll back rebelling against
It’s sockets as she CURSED and SCREAMED at
People who ceased to exist in that hissing heat of a
Moment while blubbering and regurgitating between
Confessions to our mother who was wearily
Praying for her scorched and tortured soul

Tori’s blood boiled enough to the point where she
Threatened to kill everyone in the house but it didn’t
Matter because it had already pained us to watch
Tori involuntarily simmering in violence while
Destroying herself and it scared me because in the
Steam of her madness she identified me as a cymbal
Chiming to momentarily cease the voices snapping in
Her head. She kept repeating the nickname that she gave
Me until she reached recognition of reality. She kept
Screaming “COME HERE MY CARE BEAR” like the
Colorful teddy bears that she would hold on to
When she could not bear to hold on… I was a symbol
Of an innocent memory she can’t claw her way
Back into

And I remember my big sister Tori carrying dreams to
Conquer that were pinched by past hurt, pulled by poor
Decisions, then peeled by peers who praised and rejoiced
In her iniquities. Then all of Tori’s desire to dream was
Sucked out of her. She was left hollow in her hallucinations
And after those 3 days of being treated to THIS devastation…
I get disgusted every time I see crawfish because I am reminded
Of what Tori became during those dreadful spring days.

A beautiful crustacean…drowning…in her past mistakes…
Resurrecting as another crawfish on life’s picnic table
Just…Ready to be devoured
My Tori

Guide that inspired this poem: 


Robin Lee

wow this is fantastic, some of your word choices and rhymes are great. i guess i was expecting a poem because i thought the rhythm was strange at first but then i got it and it was really good.

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