Sickroom

from by Sydney Kenney

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lyrics

Do you remember where our mother would take us once a year for that blood pressure boa-constrictor and a lollipop?
The front room divided into two, for the ill and the well, and sitting at the furthest corner of the well side, how out-of-place we felt, barely belonging ,
Do you remember the first time you had to lie on the doctor’s questionnaire?
Have you ever tried any illegal drugs or alcohol? Have you ever purposefully hurt yourself?
Do you remember the first time we both had to lie?
Do you remember your 102 fever and the first time you felt the thickness of the sickroom and hating the cherry taste of children’s motrin?
Do you remember the blue chairs lined in a circle, white walls with tacked posters of kittens telling you to hang in there, the first time you felt the emptiness of the sickroom, and hating the taste of the past 7 years? And wanting to put tacks in your shoulders and hang yourself on the wall so that everyone in that room would ignore you like that poster?
Do you remember our father with his tool box and his hammers, as we were growing up it became increasingly impossible not to notice that he was carving you into a sword and me into a shield as if our mother had given birth to 2x4’s
you shouted so much it surprised me you weren’t constantly losing your voice, I lost my voice before I learned to speak.
Do you remember going into my drawer and looking for my wallet when the high got better than me placing you high on my shoulders
how many times our parents sat us down
tried to fix us but had no idea how
Do you remember when I stopped coming home?
Lightbulbs on the front porch burning out because they would leave them on all night like lighthouses, but I was busy sending SOS symbols to strange men in bars
Those nights you could see our father sweating like the glass of vodka in my shaking palm and we were both playing with the condensation to try and keep ourselves calm.
I remember that I liked grape lollipops and you liked raspberry. We thought that if we didn’t breathe when walking through the air of people who were ill we would stay safe. Do you remember the way our parents kissed our foreheads before bed?
How we spent all night, holding our breaths.

credits

from Sickroom, released March 26, 2014

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about

Sydney Kenney West Palm Beach, Florida

spoken word poet from southern florida.
the new york times calls her 'wiggity whack.'

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