it doesnt matter why i was there,
where the air is sterile and the
it doesnt matter that i was hooked
up to this thing that beeped and buzzed
everytime my heart leaped like a man who’s faith
tells him God’s hands are big enough to catch an airplane,
or a world.
it doesn’t matter that i was curled up like
a fist protesting death, or that
every breath was either hard labour or hard time.
or that im either always too hot or too cold.
doesn’t matter because my hospital roomate
wears star wars pajamas,
and he’s 9 years old.
his name is Louis,
and i dont have to ask what he’s got.
the bald head with the skin and bones frame
the gameboy and the featherpillow booms
like they’re trying to make him feel at hom because he’s
going to be here for awhile.
i manage a smile the first time i see him and it feels like
the biggest lie ive ever told,
so i hold my breath cause i’m thinking any minute now,
he’s going to call me out on it.
i hold my breath because i’m scared of a
57 pound boy hooked up to a machine
because he’s been watching me and maybe
i’ve got him pegged all wrong,
like maybe he’s bionic or some ****.
so i look away, like i just made eye contact
with a gang member who’s got a rap sheet the length of a lecture on
dumb mistakes politicians have made.
i look away like he’s going to give me my life back
the moment i’ve got something to trade.
i **** near pull out my pack and say,
but my fear subsides when i realize Louis is all
show and tell.
he’s got everything from a shotgun shell to a
crows foot and he can put them all in context.
like, “see this is from a shooting range”,
and “see, this is from a weird girl.”
i watch his hands curl around a cuff-link and a tie-tack
and realize that every nick-nack
is a treasure
and every treasure has a story,
and every time i think i cant handle anymore
he hits me with another story.
he says, “see, this is from my father.”
“see, this is from my brother.”
“see, this is from that weird girl.”
“see, this is from my mother.”
took me about two days to figure out that
weird girl is his sister,
it took him about two hours today after she left him
for him to figure out he missed her.
and they visit every day and stay well past visiting hours
because for them that term doesn’t apply.
but when they do leave,
Louis and I are left alone.
and he says, “the worst part about being sick
is that you get all the free ice cream you ask for,”
and he says, “the worst part about that is realizing
there is nothing more they can do for you.”
he says, “ice cream cant make everything okay.”
and there is no easy way of asking,
and i know what he’s going to say,
maybe he just needs to say it,
so i ask him anyway.
“are you scared?”
Louis doesn’t even lower his voice when
i listen to a 9 year old boy say the word ****
like he was a 30 year old man
with a nose-bleed being lowered into a shark tank,
he’s got a right to it.
and if it takes this kid a curse word
to help him get through it, then i
want to teach him to swear like the devil’s
sitting there with a pen and pad
but before i can forget that Louis
is 9 years old he says,
“please don’t tell my dad.”
he asks me if i believe in angels,
and before i realize i dont have
the heart to tell him, i tell him, “not lately.”
and i just lay there waiting for him to
but he doesn’t know how to,
so he never does.
Louis loves like a man who lived in
a time before God gave religion to
men and left it to them to figure out
what hate was.
he never greets me with silence,
only smiles and a patience i’ve
never seen in someone who knows
and i’m trying so hard not to remind him
i’ll be out here in a couple of days
smoking cigarettes and taking my life
and he’ll still be planted in this bed
like a flower that refuses to grow.
i’ve been with him for 5 days and
all i really know is that Louis loves to
pull feathers out of his pillow,
and watch them float to the ground.
almost as if he’s the philosopher,
inside of the scientist ready to say,
“its the gravity that’s been getting us
the truth is: there’s not enough miracles to
go around, kid.
and there’s too many people petitioning God
for winning the lotto ticket.
and for every answered prayer,
theres a cricket with arthritis.
and the only reason we can’t find
answers is because the search party didnt invite us,
right now the crickets have arthritis.
so there is no music,
no symphony of nature swelling into crescendos,
as if ripping halos into melodies
that can keep a rhythm with the way
our hearts beat.
so we must meet silence with the
same level of noise that the parents
of a dying 9 year old boy make when
they take the liberties in talking
we must shout until we shatter our
own vibrations, then let our lives
echo and grow, echo and grow,
grow distant enough to know
that as far as our efforts go,
we don’t always get a reply.
but i swear to whatever God
i can find in the time i have left,
i’m going to
remember you, kid.
i‘m going to tell your story as
often as every story you told me.
and every time i tell it i’ll say,
“see, there’s bravery in this world.
there’s 6.5 billion people curled up
like fists protesting death,
but every breath we breathe
has to be given back.
a 9 year old boy taught me that.”
so hold your breath,
the same way you’d hold a pen
when writing Thank You letters on
your skin to every tree that gave
you that breath to hold.
and then let it go, as if you
understand something about
getting old and having to give back.
let it go like a laugh attack in the middle
of really good ***,
the black eye will be worth it.
because what is your night worth
without a story to tell?
and why wield a word like worth
if you’ve got nothing to sell?
people drop pennies down a wishing well,
so the cost of a desire is equal to that of a thought.
but if you’ve got expectations,
expect others have bought your exact
same dream for the price of a
‘hard work, hang in, hold on’
like, i accept any challenge
so challenge me.
like, i brought a knife to this gun fight,
but the other night i mugged a mountain so bring that ****,
i’ve had practice.
Louis and i cracked this world wide open and found that
the prize inside is that we never lied to ourselves.
never told ourselves that we’d be eazy or undemanding.
so we sing in our own
vibration, and dare angels to eavesdrop and stop midflight
to pluck feathers from their wings and write
demands that God’s hands take the time to
so that even if God doesn’t,
it wasn’t because we didn’t try.
i dont often believe in angels,
but on the day i left Louis
pulled a feather from his pillow and said,
“this is for you.”
i half expected him to say,
“see, this is the first one i grew.”