His body might be a small stone,
hard against the ribs as he
fights. Defends himself against a dream
of boys with larger fists, dark bottles
turning their judgment against them, drunk
with their own size in a park where he bikes.
His fists might clench, words spit with a
fierceness twelve year olds should never know.
You might find yourself caged with an animal,
raccoon-eyed with lack of sleep, you’re so
with a scream that drives wolves
to bite through the fences,
torn between the instinct to wrap him in your arm
or let him fight his own battles. Life
is a teacher leading each child, one at a time,
to a fight they must win. To the muddied water
where the animals gather. Where they will feed
on your body, scavenge your corpse for its
knowledge of pain, its strength,
preparing them for whatever
their bodies will lead them to.
He might be here, pressed to your side.
Seeking your warmth, your comfort
or a place to hide and watch
the stars rise. Study the plains.
Memorize the movement of grass.
And somewhere you can’t touch him
in the same moment, learning his legs
his throat, his heart,
how they lean into the wind,
darken his hair. How they straighten
his shoulders, lengthen his stride.
Learning to run. A howl
on his lips that is triumph
and agony, the pains of his growth
rending the throat. You may
lay on your side,
catch your breath,
mouth the word.
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