but you wouldn’t know the pain
when suddenly you can’t look me in the eyes
long gone sunday walks so few as if there
ever was the forest but
i tried to help you explore
the best I could. soft hair,
all those times i cried you kissed me & i believed
there was concern a gentle lapping
quiet naps we were rarely alone only in afternoons
i held you in sleep, long hours & now you fear touch
too human to ever cry.
the walls covered with mosquitos & darkened windows,
i wanted you to walk & you reply i hate walks
& then you started taking them daily on your own
as if i hadn’t spoken. you told me yesterday
you actually like the sun not when you’re waking
but in the middle of the day in moments if you were awake.
rarely you were,
but when you were,
sometimes you’d laugh, sometimes you were happy.
yesterday when you finally let me see you you were fixing the roof
& i remembered the times when the rain poured down upon us
inside the small shack & we threw towels around us used cups
to collect rain like tears sifting around on the mattress
& holding the other in the dry spots quickly falling back asleep.
sleep was your haven so much of your space
we did not often see the sun or cherish a lot of days we had
nights were long & we often sat in darkness until sunrise
chickens clucking & pass out in a lump of ourselves stained booze &
drunk sex it wasn’t a game
that i cared it wasn’t a game that maybe we learned something
but we loved games we played them together all the time.
small moves, & sometimes I think neither of us won.
the night of the fight a dog fight some small attack
i was already wounded survival came easy
over & over you asked me to stay you wanted me to stay
it was the first time i felt like you really wanted me to stay.
despite my wound the blood in the bathtub
& still streaking down my leg for hours i picked you up
after you fell backwards face up
on the porch & i said that night i couldn’t stay.
i came back a thousand times sat on the porch
you’d disappear & come back a thousand times
such a magician like that
but this was not a game
a thousand times you were almost gone but we were there, again
in a dark room with covered windows
curtains you picked & hung with meticulous fashion
we both had bad eyes, & we’d joke about that sometimes
i was trying to look out for you,
but our bad eyes couldn’t see,
our hearts couldn’t feel that it was scary
our bodies couldn’t tell us that if we kept biting, in the dark, eventually
we’d hurt each other.
i took your dog to the woods a season later for three
days we walked quietly we were very happy
it was christmas, me & your dog & a beautiful, quiet christmas.
i realize now
this was your way of saying goodbye you gave me your dog
for three days in the woods
the quiet surrounded us & i knew you’d leave by spring.
i will throw every stick i’ve collected now
you may try to bring them back & i’d probably take them, again .
from you, it is still true, it was never a game,
i’d probably take anything i could get.
for now, may you carry each stick
far beyond the fenced corner of the yard
behind the bone of possum, dead babies of our past
build yourself a fire
build yourself a real house, small & neat
sleep with peace & not paralysis
may you someday chose to bet. not to fold,
it is not a game.