On Need


He said “I don’t think I can commit”
like he was talking about sins and crimes,
confession painting his tongue.

When I was silent, he said
“I don’t think I can give you what you need”,
a little more self-assuredly
and at this I had to laugh

As though what I need
could ever come
from someone else.

As though what I need
is located somewhere outside

outside my muscles, my bones, outside my
bladed tongue and razor smile
and scarred tissues tougher than
any meat he could comfortably chew.

As though this is who I am –
limbs and grey body
scrabbling wildly on the ground,
scrambling blindly for “it”, this precious “thing”
that only others bestow on me out of their good will,
kindness, and power.

As though my asthmatic lungs didn’t learn
how to find air in a vacuum
when I was five and gasping:
a fish out of water.

As though my broken ankle
didn’t support my weight
for 3 days until the doctors told me
“oh it’s not just a bad sprain”

As though my tiny body,
unconscious from sunstroke
when I was barely a year old
didn’t recover.

As though I haven’t earned
the strength in my voice
or the flexibility in my bones
or the miracle that is my heart.

What can anyone give me
that I cannot give myself?

What did you give me
but poetry?

“Darling, I never needed you” I said, too softly for him to hear.
“I want(ed) you, and there is a difference.”

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