2. Some injuries that need tending

you’re the kind of man who has opened up your skin to the world

And I’ve got a first aid kit at the ready

yesterday it was a tick in your leg

a real tiny one

You put it in a jar so I could see how tiny

and then we inspected each other’s bodies from head to toe with the tiny reading light I clamp to my books


today it was either a bee sting or a bump from when you were running away from the bees who live by the water pump

We couldn’t find a stinger

so probably a bump

I stared at you in what would be disbelief if I didn’t know you

shook my head and laughed

how do you not remember running into something?

When I remember every pain I’ve ever been given


Now, I’m cautious about who gets to burrow themselves deep into my skin but I do have some indoor injuries that need tending

And so you bring me a bag of frozen cauliflower and an electric heating pad and a binder full of worksheets about cognitive behavioral therapy

and then you listen to me wail


We were like this when we were children

but we didn’t have each other yet.

I remember you, though. I remember you outside poking at things with sticks, climbing trees and falling out of them, doing all the things that children did, and that I might have done too, had I ever been a child.

i remember also the glorious days I got to be sick

i was always sick but not in a way I could put my finger on. So the days when it was real were such a triumph

the rest of the kids had to play outside, but I got to stay upstairs reading and away from all the loudness and the expectations

The room had eyelet curtains that looked so beautiful when the light came in

and I was so happy to be alone

We cried this week about what was happening to our bodies, about what has always been happening

All the times we were told we were being bad or faking it, that we were too much or not enough 

About the way we both push ourselves to collapse when we’re not careful

(we both just want so badly to be useful, to leave this world a little better than when we got here)

why didn’t we meet sooner

when we could have stopped things from getting Worse

But of course we had met.

i was 6 or 7. You were 4 or 5.

i didn’t care much for other children

so the fact that I have no ill thoughts of you whatsoever?

well, let’s just say it’s rare

I’ve begun to think it all comes down to speed, and timing

but no, no

it’s also a matter of inside or outside, and getting the right mix

but no, that’s not it either

i just hope when I slip into bed beside you tonight I don’t wake you up

I think I stay up late just to have more time together

if that makes sense

once, your mother told me how much my mom loved you

(this was when we were kids

she never met you as a grown-up

never knew who you’d be to me one day)

But when she was alive and you were a little boy, my mom would ask you questions slowly and listen to you talk and talk

and if what your mother says is true, my mom would laugh and laugh

and this is how I am, too, with you

and I might never have known that,

(the way I am like her)

If not for you.

SR 6.28.20

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