Alternative Medicine

By Victoria Kennefick

I am here to heal, to confess to that darkness
standing in front of my eyes when I open them,

that food squirms as if alive with maggots,
that I have shut my mouth to everything but words.

The therapist taps my shoulders, my head, my knees,
tells me I was a nun once, very strict.

This makes sense; I know how cleanly I like
to punish myself. Also, a Celtic priestess;

I hope I had red hair, that I ate men
like air, all that jazz.

She moves to my forehead; her fingers drum
on my skin. There were two of you, she says.

My body remembers in a jolt, the guilt
black and endless. It is a tunnel.

No, it is someone else’s shadow. Almost like mine.
A twin, poor thing. In my mother’s womb

I consumed this sibling, she says, like I gnaw
at my flesh now, my body feeding on whatever scrap.

You didn’t do it, she says. I know I did,
I know I did.
My little twin, one of us had to go.


Directed by Matthew Thompson.

"Alternative Medicine" from Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet Press, 2021). Reproduced with permission of Carcanet Press.