the first time, you don’t understand.
“got into trouble?” you ask,
your smile hunger-sharp;
you and your brother
love with curses and fists
and you can’t imagine not choosing a fight:
you, a snake
you, a lit fuse
you, a carrion bird.
“yes,” he says, dry as dust
and looks away from you.
what an asshole, you think, because
you’re still telling yourself
the boy you like is
a boy to despise
a nothing, a no-one,
a handful of dirt.
the second time, his lip’s swollen
crimson; a cut on one side
siren song to your mouth.
what happened to you, you want to ask,
your heart a crazed bird in your
ribcage; but even bloodied, you want
to kiss his lips
so you knot your tongue
into “what happened to you, loser?”
he stares you dead in the eye
and he says: “i fell”
and he knows you know it’s a lie
and he wants you to feel the
insult of it,
bitter sharp in his honey accent.
later, you learn
how your jagged pieces fit
your father: gaping absence and lovely dreams.
his father: looming presence and hateful hands.
you tell yourself you don’t like him, but
you would take every hit for him.
the third time, he doesn’t come to school
you go see him with your friend, who is also
his friend, aflutter with worry and care.
you bite leather and paint your face stony,
your insides roiling and sick.
the boy you like is green and blue and black,
a kaleidoscope of hurt.
you hate him for putting that hurt
in your heart, as well, but
wear the bruise like
a badge of honor.
your friend asks him why don’t you want to leave
and gets no answer; but
you do, because he’s
not looking hard enough and
you are always looking.
the boy you like says nothing
but his sky eyes
and his clenched hands
and every blue-black flower on his face
scream the answer loud enough
to burn cities to the
i want to
i want to
i want to
but i will save myself
or i will drown.
picture credit: "hands" -arielleandsebastian.tumblr.com