his heart beats silently,
but his breathing is always labored.
air screams through a tightened wall of scar
where once there was nothing at all.
his lips press tightly together,
pursed into a frown by the vacuum of breath
rising and falling.
his hair mats from sweat collecting on his pillow.

and what dreams do not wake you?
what makes you smile while sleeping?
is it the bath fish come alive, wriggling against your skin?
or mama chasing you in fields of bedding,
catching you and tickling?

how did you even come to be you?
what mistake did i make that left your flesh incomplete,
your face hollow where a smile should be?
was it my body?
the things i did,
this gross collection of DNA,
half-rotted from some past indiscretion?
my cells eating each other at the exact wrong moment,
leaving you incomplete and detached,
so that now, months later,
your inhalation and subsequent exhalation
are driven hard by will,
forced coming in and going out
against damaged tissue,
hardened by unfamiliar hands
and yet unable to soften with kisses,
to relax with words whispered gently in a lullaby hum…

why can i not repair what i’ve inflicted
and heal my heart enough
to have faith in this body’s ability to
make a whole person,
perfect and ripe,
fruit born from a shell tough enough
to weather every wound,
to absorb every stone thrown
in a tornado of creation?

will one day come when we have both healed over,
yet left with scars
that remind us at times
of how difficult it is to breathe?