neither black nor white

i said, you’re hurting me.
you replied that you had to,
that dropping me from this height
was the only way you could remind me
that those wings on your back could be
removed (and the pedestal, too,
is only cheap plywood).

through furious tears i blinked
and opened my eyes to see you
naked and dirty. i wanted to tell you
i had always known you were disfigured–
i loved your mouth more for the acid burns
left on your lips after so many acrid speeches

but i admit to glorifying your ugliness
to forgetting that even beloved hideousness
is still horrific and will sometimes bite back
without kissing the wound.

do me a favor; do not push my hands away
from your open sores, but teach me to see them
as they are, still to tend to them, to kiss around them,

teach me to know the whorls of your gnarled self
as the warrior apprises the worshiper
of his being a murderer as much as a hero–
but be sure to remember that just as you have killed,
so have you conquered,
and that is just as well.

show me, i say quietly into your ear,
hoping you will pull me close enough
to know that i am yours
and say,
let me tell you a story.


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