when I was a child
I yearned to hear you say
“I love you”
“I think you are beautiful”
not to my sisters
not to my brother
to me

I heard you
say it to my sisters
say it about my sisters
I heard you
say it to my brother
say it about my brother
and it hurt
and sometimes
the hurt got so big inside me
when I heard you telling them
how wondeful
and beautiful
they were
and how much you loved them
I would ask you if I was beautiful
and if you loved me too

some of the time you would just brush me off with something like:
“Of course! Why would you think otherwise?”
but then you’d turn away
or follow it up with “you know I do”
but I didn’t
with them you did it spontaneously
and with me it was an afterthought
combined with minimizing
my feelings and thoughts

some of the time you’d brush off my words with something like:
“Why does it always have to be about you?
Can’t I tell how I feel about them
without you butting in?
You’ll do anything for attention!”
and I was left wondering
if I would ever get attention

so I spent my childhood
knowing how greedy I was
knowing how I was always second best
and now I’m ‘grown up’
and I still don’t know if you even like me
let alone love me
and the saddest part
is that now that you are aging
and so many of your darlings break your heart because
they are too busy to visit
or too sure you do things their way or not at all
I am still there
supporting you
letting you know it is okay
for you to just be yourself
and be the best, healthiest self you can be

and I still hear you saying
how wonderful they all are
and how much you love them
and I still stand there
what is so wrong with me
that you will never say it to me, too