Scared Violent Like Horses

Monday, January 14, 2019

I was too young to call him a friend, but I had a classmate once who snuck up

behind a horse and now his body is made of a long time ago.

He is the quiet space in my memory where he never sat next to me again.

Back then, everyone I ever called a friend held fire in their fists

when they talked to me. Their fists were dingy, grime-covered, and grease-slick

as if they were made of horsehair, as if they were untamed and lonely,

galloping and wind-swollen. We didn’t know how to talk about loss,

so we made each other lose. We went to fields to see

who could take the most damage. We went to fields that smelled like the boy

who became an empty space on a Tuesday morning a long time ago.

Now, because I am scared of time and how it moves, I look down at my fists

that didn’t always want to, but have hit so many friends

that the broken knuckles look like bruised magnolias. Listen to me, Please,

when I knock or bang on the table or door and beg for attention.

Please, I don’t know how to ask for forgiveness. I don’t know how

to let anything go. I don’t know how to say anything else

about the boy who had a buzz cut and a flat head, the boy who was kicked in the face

by a horse and died looking up at the sky. The boy’s father must have

found his son with a crushed face, and while running back to the house

with his own son in his arms, must have said something raging

and spiteful to God. This memory is my starting point when I think backward

and apologize for all of our fists coiled tight as key rings. How could we not

break the mirror we look at in the morning? How could we not swing

at the different versions of our faces staring back between

the fissures? The hurt and mangled parts of us loved the blood dried brown

on our skewbald knuckles, and we had nightmares of being reined in.

We needed someone to help us change. We needed someone to force us

into confronting the uselessness of our violence.

But no one came, and our fists swelled unbridled and restless, wild and afraid.

Monday, January 14, 2019