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The child inside of me crawled out of my mouth

& ate Mott’s applesauce, using the foil lid as a spoon.

I asked how did you think I did today & he told me

to go fuck myself & I said what do you mean & also

don’t say things like that & he said I can say whatever

I want & also why would you keep me here if I can’t

say whatever I want to you & I nodded & I said

you’re right, child who I keep inside of me, you’re right,

& he finished his applesauce & folded the foil into

a perfect square that he folded once more into

a triangle & he looked at me real serious in the way

that only a child can – I mean, his face really scrunched

up – & he said you know, I thought you’d still be

playing hopscotch with the shadows, I thought

you’d still do that thing when you make your arms

really short & pretend you’re a dinosaur, I thought

a lot of things would be true that just aren’t true

anymore & to be honest I’m disappointed, & I said

you’re right, & I nodded, & he was jamming his finger

in his ear & he seemed so concerned, & I looked

out the window & thought of something I hadn’t done,

a single number I forgot to put on a document somewhere,

& I looked back at the child & he was pouting at me

& he said you don’t do it anymore & I said what & he said

you don’t graze your fingers along the bricks when

the light touches them & makes them gold & you

hardly smile to yourself & I know this because when you

smile then I smile too & he was sad & I was about to answer

though I don’t know what I was going to say because

he was right about everything as a child often is but then

he said can I interrupt you & I said go ahead, if you want

to interrupt, you don’t have to ask, & he said do you

remember when our dad drove us to the hospital

to see our mom & the wind blew his hat off his head

& under a car & you both laughed as you tried to find

it, & he had his feet up – the child did – as he was saying

this, & I said yes, & I was crying because I remembered,

& I kept saying yes, because I did remember, because

the wind was so strong that day & it made my father’s hair

look like tall grass atop a tiny field & I was so scared

& I hadn’t yet experienced the delicate & terrifying

sensation of knowing – in a piercing, shattering moment –

that the people you love will go away one day & will

sometimes hurt you, & I know my dad was scared too,

but he did that laugh he does when the whole world

shakes even though he doesn’t laugh like that anymore

& my mom was sick but she got better & my dad was strong

but he got weak & it’s funny how that happens,

& he was holding me, the child was, which is what I say

when I am holding myself, which I have to do sometimes

when I get scared, which I always am, even now, as I am

saying this, yes, I do this thing where I put my arms around

myself & squeeze & close my eyes & wish the thoughts away

except for those days long ago when I would play hopscotch

with the shadows, where I’d open my hand to hold the light.