Enjoy Being Human

Ali O'Reilly

Once I saw a breathing tube removed from my brother

Extracted like a hummingbird bill from the tulip after all nectar was swallowed and gone.

It was the same year my mother’s boyfriend found a lump in her right breast
While they were showering together
Which I think is fantastic
The shower part not the rest.

Five years ago
my dad moved all the cooking spices six hundred miles south. I dreamt he would hit on the
salesgirl selling him a new bed, that he would drink until his wine and shotgun were emptied in
an apartment I hadn’t seen.

(Getting older means calling your parents not because you need to locate your social security
card or need clarification on how to soft boil an egg.
It is guilt and love and wanting to cry but not being able to.
It is chopping an onion just to throw it away.)

The house my mom is packing up has three dogs buried in the woods.
My first summer home from school I peed on a stick as the boy who took my virginity paced
worry into the tile.

It was the first time I felt my body wanted me ruined from the inside out.

A decade earlier I learned to make myself come on the banister of the basement staircase.
It was around the time I was holding séances underwater which I gave up once my dad found
me sleeping in the bathtub and told me this is how people drown, as if he thought I didn’t know.

That kind of Sadness is only fun until your secret is exposed.
Like someone finding an entire chopped up onion in your garbage and asking why.

Currently, it’s hard to tell where my brother’s brain injury ends and he begins. One of them
wants him dead. One of them hates the willow tree we planted when he was a toddler for no
reason other than it’s overgrown in branches and sentimentality.

The physicality of your surroundings holds onto the proof of how you’ve learned to cheat life by
moving through sex and sadness. It is all muffin tins and no canola oil. It is grooves in the
banister, rust stains and mastectomy scars. It is smoking pot with your brother— telling him no
one would blink if he took an axe tonight to the willow tree.

About Ali O'Reilly

Contributor headshot, Ali O'Reilly

Ali O’Reilly is a conceptual artist and writer living and working in Minneapolis, MN. Her poetry book What Is The Opposite Of A Machine Gun And How Do I Empty That Into You? is available on the interwebz for your googling and purchasing pleasure.

Follow Us: