wound / drown

by sophie

He lies first, says the skinned chin & swollen eye’s from play-fighting. Look at me, she says, take your sunglasses off. When he does, he looks in the passenger side mirror, looks away, replaces the glasses. The eye is nearly swollen shut, she’s seen, she blinks a thousand times for strength, focuses on traffic lights, away from his thinning frame. What are you afraid of, he asks, and she says, I’m afraid that you’re using again, I’m afraid there’s something about you that you won’t touch. He turns to watch pedestrians outside the hospital with a numb quiet, then it’s time for his appointment & he’s gone. He lies second, says okay, here’s the truth: it’s from falling face first on a metal dog crate, I’m sorry I lied. A dog crate shaped like a fist, she thinks, a fist shaped like a lie shaped like a resentment shaped like a raft on which one floats away from God. He’s sleepless in all cities, sleepless in himself. He finds a new friend to disappear inside. She closes her hand, cries into dusk on a folding chair amidst strangers. Somebody gives her a tissue crushed into the pocket of a purse. Brother, she thinks, I cannot help you. Go where you must go. Come back if you can.

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