the illness that wants me all to itself

the illness that wants me all to itself by Valerie Parente

There are voices in my head
that do not belong to me
and when you ask how I feel
I can feel them speak.
There is a pattern in the language
so ripe with irony,
“To be sick is strong,
to be healthy is weak.
The pain finds a cure
when you cut skin deep.
To be sober is trapped,
to be drunk is free.
When you avoid your fears
their power depletes.”
It’s as if by design,
this backwards philosophy,
and I have to share a home
with the voices on repeat.
But I am no lost cause,
I can still find my speech
and maybe that’s why
I can write it so easily.
This illness wants me all to itself
but it will never have entirety
because as long as I have a pen
I can differentiate between
a voice in my head
and the words that compete.

Valerie Parente (8-20-2022)

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