“Here I am, now, Boy, here I am.
Will you tell me about the monsters?
Will you speak to me, at all?”
Boy turns his eyes up, blank from the long absence
He opens his mouth and looks for a word to begin.
A silence slips from his tongue that tells more
Than any mash up of words can. We stare until
Eyes, blackened and dry, beg for mercy
From the desperate plea for an understanding
We cannot afford, the cost of his words too high.
On my knees, not to beg, not to pray, nothing but
His eyes follow my descent. Now something else slips
From his lips, more telling than the silence that collapsed
Me: “You. It was you.” My blackened eyes see the brown
In his. His hand reaches up and wipes sand from my cheeks.
His soft-skinned fingers bleed against the coarsest of skin.
Drops of his blood like necessary tears
To drain the black from my soul.
“What do I do now, Boy?”
“Speak to me of the monster…”
“I thought you would be safe here, so I left to defend us.”
“There was nothing to defend, without me inside you.”
“There was nothing to defend, without you inside me.
And so the monsters came, one by one, and for a time
I won, and chest decorated with medals, head praised,
Onward and deeper into the world, farther from you,
The monster who proved more intelligent than designed
Evolved to meet my defenses and slip inside them.
Once inside, it ate from the inside out until nothing
Remained of us but the poison half a man becomes
Without the boy he left behind who could steer him
Back into goodness like an anti-virus, like penicillin.
Until finally, it all collapsed, bones could bear the weight
No more, and the contorted flesh no longer fit the skin.
They all stared at me, a beast, a demon, a too human man
For the hero he pretended. There was nothing to defend.”
“Without me inside you.”
“Here I am now, boy, here I am
Will you speak to me of monsters?
Will you speak to me?”
I have no words, just my hand and weary legs.
Help me stand, help me walk, help me out of here.
Let me back inside,
I know the way to the stream
That trickled down the hill in the woods.
There we will drink clean water
To quench your thirst.”
He turns his eyes up at mine, our brown mirrors
Look inside one another and see
There was no monster.
There was no monster,
Just a child needing to know love
From the man who left to defend him
When there was nothing to defend,
Without him inside.
Image: The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli