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.