From Your Imaginary Friend

Poetry by Odi Welter

When you started talking
to the people in your head,
you were dubbed “creative”
and diagnosed with an
“overactive imagination.” 

Nobody noticed
that all you were
was “lonely,”
and that the correct diagnosis
was “in need of love.” 

Your brother was born
with a heart that didn’t beat
right. You breathed hospital
so much you can still taste it,
but never remember what it looks like. 

You were homeschooled
to build a bubble around
your home, keep away
the germs that could make
your family of four one less. 

I played board games with you
when no one else could.
You didn’t have to hear 
me say “Sorry!”
for something I didn’t understand. 

I held your hand when you
felt as invisible as I was,
fading into the worlds
in your head. I pulled you back
when you forgot you were real. 

I was there when you
faked a broken leg so well
you nearly convinced yourself,
dragging your left leg behind you
because left is what’s behind. 

I shared orange juice tapioca
with you in the family room
of the hospital, while your family
waited for them to finish
rearranging your brother’s insides. 

You created a second family:
father, mother, twins
who lived in a brown house
just so you could watch it burn.
They all died. 

I cried with you
when you felt like a monster
for it. You didn’t understand
why you were
mourning the imaginary. 

I let you push me off a cliff
and resurrect me
every time you wanted
to jump yourself.
I couldn’t die for real. 

I saw all of the childhood
that you can’t remember
and that you don’t want to.
I was never real, but
I reminded you that you were. 

About the Author:

Odi Welter is a junior at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee majoring in Film and Creative Writing.

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