Baby Boy

cw/tw: drug abuse, suicidal ideation, graphic description of imagined death

The last time I walked this far I was a wine-drenched wreck,
class A in my veins, suddenly off venlafaxine after a decade

spent ingesting the highest dose daily. Pubs shut, lockdown, streets empty,
desperately despairing—Suicidal Sunday & nobody was coming for me.

I had the baby boy waiting for me at home. I’d left him because I didn’t want him
to see me crying, shaking, frightened, so insane. He’d already escaped a small hell

when I whisked him away from that crack den flat on that sinkhole estate, when he fit
in the palms of my cut-up hands. Still, in pain, my brain pushed the image of him away

for a tiny second & I launched myself into the path of the bus careening
down the hill. It swerved around me & the driver stuck two fingers up at me

& called me a fucking idiot & I screamed back, I KNOW, because I remembered
the baby boy again, how he was expecting me back. Yes, if I didn’t have the kitten,

I’d have made sure I’d died splayed under the wheels of the oncoming 144. What was left
of the flesh of me would have been dragged down Park Road & up The Broadway.

The bus would’ve been hosed down at the depot, then turned around to retrace
its journey & crawl solemnly past the scene of my crime, up & down the hill, on repeat,

repeat, repeat. Or maybe the driver who ran over me would refuse, would demand
to work a different route. I’d have made the pages of The Evening Standard, granted,

another casualty of the pandemic, they’d say, isolated, MH issues exacerbated,
though that wouldn’t have been true & anyway, I had the baby to get home to.

I ran back, choking apologies, I’m so sorry, I’ll never leave you again, I promise,
I’m so sorry.
We were both small & hungry but in different ways. I was shrinking

into nothingness & he, the runt of the litter, rejected by his mother, was growing
bigger, stronger, fiercer every day. I was starving for love, safety,

something resembling peace, but he had all that in abundance.
He just wanted chicken liver pâté on his special little plate.

When I got home, he didn’t eat.
It turns out he just wanted me.

 


Originally published in Issue 4 of SICK Magazine.

Featured image is a photo of my cat, Ludo, taken a few weeks before the incident in the poem – how could I ever think about leaving him!? Ludo saved my life, and continues to save my life each and every day <3

In other news, my debut full-lenth prosetry collection History of Present Complaint has been longlisted for the Poetry Book Awards 2022! You can get your copy of my book here.

Hope you’re all staying safe and sane. H xx

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