This Cold Hollow
How did I know that you had left me before I knew the words for empty, lost, bereft? Before my birth scar? Before I witnessed the guillotine of your contempt? Before I could control my bowel, or tie my shoe, or awakened trembling in the night. Before you scoffed at me as I learned to walk.
A wild bird born in a shoebox senses an unknown world through its wings; a child through the smell of cigarette tar on net curtains; through warm piss in a cold bed; and the distance he can spit through the school railings.
Like bread stolen from the poor, I anticipate the tension and release of a hunger that rises and falls beneath my sternum, not in the empty belly. Thrown back upon myself, my terror swarms like Starlings and ground glass into the shadow of a hook I put around my neck. Around every look I give you. Into every time you look askance. Into your hard edges; your coy softness with others. I become sawdust to your floor. And you, unreachable, no matter the denials, the blood spilled, or the threat of life or death.
Empty parking space. Trees without leaves. A sky without a Sun. Rain on the back of a hand. Space without belonging. There is no place for me.
And so, I learn to forget myself as I too am forgotten. The way we all forget a shrub, a drain cover, or algebra. I forget my hunger in an effort to forget the pain of you remembered. I let the door swing on my hand to bring me from old to new, uncomplicated pain; to rescue my longing from your death coil.
I forget the throat-ache of my sorrowful song.
Instead, I stand on stage with a side parting, no cleft palate; no club foot; no Tiny Tim of brace and buckle. I worry about money and diplomas and cancer, and whether everyone on Earth will share the double helix of your eternal absence and indifference, in this cold hollow.
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