I picture you hunched at your desk, a college boy now, but slight as you were at ten. Then, you wielded a plastic light saber, slashed at the air, already whirling into shadow. Now, only your ear buds divine the faint beating of your heart. Now, a plasticfork is your weapon of choice: you trace endless patterns on your plate—circling and dividing—debating. Refusing or purging.
Your face is paler these days, unshaved and hollow—a palimpsest of the plump-cheeked boy I once held. Then, your sweet lips poised and expectant; head tipped back for that first trickle of something holy. Pure.
Your parents named you Christopher, after the saint. A dutiful boy and true to your namesake, you struggled beneath the weight of Him from the start. Year after year, wading through depths of sorrow. Now, you weigh and measure each morsel. Each sip, and breath, and sin. And still the river thirsts for you. You for it. Weary, you tread and tread and tread, bearing your slow and constant penance.
Dina Greenberg's writing has appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Bellevue Literary Review, Tahoma Literary Review, and Barely South, among others. She teaches creative writing at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC.
Boy, Bearing was first published in Medical Literary Messenger (VCU).