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May 2021
He said he left it all far behind him,
on an island in the Caribbean where he was born,
in a city on the North Sea where he was a child.
But it crests in white-green surf behind his eyes.
He speaks of it in the space underneath his words.
I wonder if he can hear himself.

He said eight years of beatings at school made him into
the man that he has become. It has toughened him.
He holds his broad back strong and high,
heavy shoulder blades hard like beetle wings.
It’s good for children, he said,
to learn that not everyone is kind.

He said he doesn't think about it. He’s proud of it.
It made him it into the man that he has become.
But he runs his hand back and forth through his hair.
He said that he will **** himself if he loses it.
Back and forth. He said sometimes
he can’t look at himself in the mirror.

He said that at ten, watching cancer **** his father
on the couch in the living room, helping clean
black blood ***** off the bathroom floor -
it made him into the man that he has become.
He said he never speaks of this memory anymore,
then he pulled me in and kissed me deeply.

His expanse of skin swallowed me, his lips pulled my lips,
the bulk of his chest rising over me blocked the light.
But his carapace of flesh was cold under my hands,
his breath was coming rapid, like a trapped rabbit.
My mouth on his neck, I asked - are you alright,

and he said he’s fine.
Jane Doe
Written by
Jane Doe  29
   Bogdan Dragos
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