There is a twelve year old boy walking
In my shadow. When I enter a room, and
Sit in a chair, he plops down in the empty one next to me. He
Bites his nails. He is fat. His shoes are untied.
There is a smear of ketchup on his Metallica shirt. Of course,
He needs a shower. Wherever I go, there he is.
He is fascinated with cars. In his dreams, blue ones and
Red ones race toward empty horizons at impossible
Speeds. They are sleek, divine bolts of irresistible force.
One day, I'd had enough. I spoke to him. I said,
You embarrass me. What do you want? And he said, Well,
You ignore me, so I guess we're even. He lifted the
Hamburger he was holding to his lips and chewed with his
Mouth open. His filthy baseball cap sat askew on his
Head, nearly falling off. Whadderyoulookinat? He said. I
Dunno, that's what I'm trying to figure out. It went on
Like that for a while, getting more and more ugly. Finally we ran
Out of things to say. There was a long silence. Who are
You really? I asked. When he told me, it was no surprise
At all. We looked each other in the eye a long time.
Eons passed. Sea floors rose up and hardened in the sun, became
Rock upon which the ancients carved their languages. Still,
We held each other's eye. At last the trance broke. I put my hand
Behind his head, pulled him to me. I know you are doing
The best you can, I said. I see how hard you try. I am right here,
I won't leave you. I won't let you down. I won't let you
Down, I said, to an empty chair, a fleeting image in a mirror, to
The air. Yes. It's true.
I spoke it to the air.