Admit it, you love him, that old Proteus who’s never
stopped trying to win your affection. Embrace
him, says your therapist, he’s the one who’s weathered
you through. He’s lived in your house so long your neighbors
call him your common law mate. Even the flea-ridden
hound two doors down has stopped barking. But you’re still
not sure. True, he’s changed from the freckled kid
who ripped your jeans and catapulted you down the hill,
from the duller adolescent who tried to clamp his hot arms
at the base of your belly. How you hated him as he grew
older and began looking like a rock star. More than once you
took him to bed. Remember how he blew
you a kiss the first time you tried to buy him off with Midol?
And when you were ready to conceive, he started to weep.
The fights you had, he spiking your hormones and you
clotting screams in his almost distinguished face.
When you managed the inconceivable, he was there too
in his new white coat telling you to breathe, breathe.
You hated him most when he stroked your temple until
your vision tunnelled and the page cracked. He’d hang
around for days despite the ergot you gave him that made you feel
as if he were flying away. Lately he has settled on your thumbs,
like a lover who keeps the lock of hair he cut from her head
after she died. Memento mori. He’s here to remind you
you can’t open a locket without him. The Bach inventions
that never interested him have become his favorites. He’s glued
to you at the computer, coddles your hands. You better savor
his affection because he’s the grimace between you and the grave.