there’s this boy i work with.
he is five.
he wears long sleeves
and shorts with holes in them
that are only kept together with
small clothespins and thin threads.
his hair is always cut close
to his skin, though his bangs are left
just long enough so it covers his eyes
and i know no one can see them.
but i always watch him.
only sometimes i will allow myself
to watch over someone else, even though i know
this boy will only continue to follow me.
he asks me to play,
he asks me to speak,
and sometimes, he even asks me
to hold his hand.
they are always cold and strong,
with calluses and chipped nails
that dig rough into my skin,
and his voice is always hard ice,
roaring like pounding hail through a storm.
but most of the time, he fights.
he hurts the other boys. they are small
and they fight over pieces of chalk,
over shovels and pales and who gets to play
on the swings, but they throw punches
like i’ve seen adults do.
sometimes i look at them
and i see the ripple of muscle,
the way their tiny voices
grow deep as they raise in volume,
their tongues flicking in anger
like they are pulling tiny triggers.
but nothing compares to when
he tells me, “i was angry. i wanted to hurt them,”
and for the moment he takes his eyes off
the ground, and i can see them through
they say those you love
tell what they want to say
by what is left in their eyes,
and i’ve seen these eyes enough
to know they do not mean to say
these eyes are the color of
violent ocean waves, the kind that come
before a storm, that are lit dark
under the lack of sun and the constant,
yet far, emotionless beat of a lighthouse.
they only want me to drown with them.
this is why, when he holds my hand too tight,
when his hailstorm threatens to hover over me,
when the other boys cry as we walk away,
i do not ask him to let me go.
i can only imagine him drowning when i do so.