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hayfevered posted a topic in Poetryare you happy? was it worth it? we cower and flinch, brother and brother, shoulder to shoulder under warning palm-striking wooden spoon, tyrant of mistakes. i remember the little things that shape me, like the enduring, ingrained compulsion to eat pizza crusts regardless of dislike after you made my brother eat his out of the trash in 2007. i remember when you beat him over and over for telling lies. i remember when you found out he hadn't been, and gathered his little body into your arms like you could undo all that hurt with a sorry or two. i don't think he ever forgot. i remember being young and criss crossing behind a chair in the corner of a hospital waiting room when my sister was born. i remember the first time you hit her. dad remains the passive one, too shy and mellow to lift a hand to anyone. you are a force to be reckoned with. the me that was yours is no longer the me that is. i fear making even the smallest mistakes regardless that i know i've grown too much for you hit me anymore; this anxious thrumming beneath my skin is a tenuous thing, and at the worst of it, two years ago, i found new ways to bring my life closer to the endless stratosphere. in the night i dream of being your worthwhile son. are you happy? was it worth it? identity is a fluctuating, neverending thing, one of constant ebb and pull that beckons me out to the wide blue river mentioned in passing by gretchen weirob within a dialogue on personal identity. the water within is distinct but constantly flowing through, and yet the river it is remains the same river it was. her metaphor stood on both legs but for twenty-four hours, kneeling then at the feet of philosophy and laying out to be picked over and strung up by the fingertips for examination by later generations. john perry begs me to find myself. timeline theory flows from between my teeth, each syllable dripping from a new reality; the one in which i was loved is not the one i inhabit now. the one in which i am yours is not the one i inhabit now. and as i step forward into this branch of here, this branch of now, the parameters that my identity operates within resets; the stars above my head shift just a little to the left, and polaris blinks openmouthed at me while my prolixity lapses into quiet rumination. i forgive myself. and when the garage door rumbles open i flinch and my heart kicks me into fight-or-flight, tying my vocal cords closed and bowtied and shuttering the reason behind my eyes. your first orders come at a shout like barking rottweilers through the door, and my sister flees upstairs. every quiet, circuitous sentence is a plea laid at your feet; asking anything of you outright is a struggle. a friend's house is water circling the drain. you scream at me for clarity, and my mouth sews itself shut, sutures all catgut and copper wire. are you happy? was it worth it? i cannot speak.