I run my fingertips over the edge of the desk
feeling its marred pelt, trying to translate
the violent script he must have scribbled in
when he thought, No one is looking.
The pens he stole from the church house on
the Sundays he let me take him there, lying about
like strewn cigarettes, their heads gnawed down
with the stern concentration of adolescent lips
seeking answers. The paper he asked for in bulk
stuffed in drawers and overflowing trash lids.
I saw peach shaped bruises on his thumbs the other day
and he recoiled when I reached to wipe them off,
His familiar brown eyes turning swift shades
of black; for isolation. How those eyes are so like
my own and yet, unrecognizable. And the red lines
on the heel of his palm, I noticed and thought
from injury, but really, they were just lead hickies
and the bite of the desk. How I used to wash grass stains
and bug guts from his hands and toes in the tub,
he’s too big for that now. Too old for comfort.
They say it gets hard at this age.
My eyes scan the oak surface, in this stolen moment
while he is away, and the oven downstairs is
working to make a meal he won’t even taste;
the worn and old finish of his throne, silent
but jarring; The space feeling preternatural
like something sublime could happen here;
And maybe it does. The dark red walls we painted
together last summer.
His thin elbows grinding the tabletop,
his profile glowing with the desk light and
the steady stream of music from beneath the door;
foreign sounds and images of someone I thought
I knew. When I dared to knock and enter,
His fingertips tracing the same lines over and over
in countless hours, just carving different symbols
making new scars to fill the spaces
then peeling off their skins
to dip the pen in its blood.
His quick gaze upward and fiery eyes, as though to say
You don’t belong here.
I don’t need you anymore.
Falling prey to the pen,
while losing time and friends and places;
them fearing the gaze of a mind uninterrupted.
and I feeling powerless, retreat to requisite
duties: clothe and feed and dress.
I maybe fear it too.
Whilst packing his lunch and watching him itch
at the dinner table, his hands restless and eyes
shifting as if searching or unsettled, like
he is already making his way up the stairs
to the solitude of that room, the cold embrace of
his desk; Where he thinks no one sees him,
No one’s looking, and his eyes don’t seem so
dead. I don’t recall which birthday party
changed it all; The last time he felt like
a child, now more like a ghost
dressed up as life.
Searching for the warmth he finds here
in the empty lines and crinkled paper,
I search for it so I may find it
and bring it alive, back into his life
and my part in it;
Though they say,
it is inane
-D.N.B 2/11/13 edited: 3/28/13