No zero sum game

the everyday kind...
I realize
NOT a zero-sum game
because quite often, everyone loses

the rights of a disabled sister
of a well-meaning family
and a protective mother
each remain unfulfilled
For weeks my sister inquired about the upcoming Eid celebration
in her own partially-grounded-in-reality, expectant manner.
Looking forward to the holiday
holding no specific expectations
but for the one big one…
The one
of spending her day with family
playing with nieces and nephews
the excitement of dressing up in traditional clothes
the rare chance to eat a home cooked meal.

this (Eid) morning she called
to ask about today,
about our plans?
I could not get myself to answer the phone

How do I explain? …
to her with an intellectual disability
the mental disability of another, her mother…
Our mother,
her personality disorder recklessly navigating her life
at once unpleasant, suspicious, accusing
convinced of the malintent of others
and raging relentlessly against this wrong.

Irrational behavior
leads to animosity
to distance
in most animals
And since her episode last week
of accusations and recriminations
I am unprepared
cowardly perhaps
to handle a recurrence
of the emotional volcanic eruption
which inviting my sister over
could trigger
would trigger.

The phone continues to ring
for hours later
within the guilt of my conscience
its vibrations unsteadying my pacifist soul.
Is there a way out?
this emotional maze
with no exits
walls much too tall to scale
Is there a nice way out?
I wonder
with deep pessimism,
A way to settle things so that no-one feels hurt?
A way to quietly swap this missed opportunity
for an even better one in the future.
Alas! there isn’t…
In this realm
One minus one isn’t zero
in the mathematics of relationships, humans and feelings’
duties, blood and illness
one minus one remains minus one or worse.

Today the sinkhole between my bottom ribs grows larger
drains my shallow breathing
into a whirlpool of loss
swallows my reason, my patience, my fortitude,
perhaps all of the best of what I have inside.

I know
what its like when no-one wins…
I have proof that
everyone can lose in the same hand
My sister lost out…
My mother lost…
My family lost…

And I certainly feel like a loser…
Unable to deliver on a simple promise to my sister
Unable to overcome the machinations of a loving but deluded mind
Unable to gather this family
in one huge bearhug
to celebrate our togetherness.


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