When an eight year old boy sobs

I hate my life one hundred and eight times
on his top bunk, refusing touch,
and mother leaves his side after trying
to lie beside him, and father lifts his head
from folded arms to let her climb down the ladder,
the boy eventually sighs himself to sleep
while the parents lie in bed almost holding each other
in the dark, speaking in bed tones of how to best inhale
suffering and exhale relief. She says she wrinkles
her brow, closes her eyes, hunches, feels red heat
when she breathes in; opens her eyes, softens
her expression, straightens her shoulders, sees
cool green when she breathes out, because
it is the body that remembers before the mind,
the body where suffering lodges like a sliver
of glass in the palm. It won’t work its way out.
He nods. You have to break the skin.

2008

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