I think about the bullet in his wrist that still floats
between radius and ulna. In the wake of his thrashing,
his quiet shatter-sounds, I have heard, murmured, the stories
that pool beneath his eyes each morning. I have learned
that there are times when the decision must be made not to cut
through muscle, to let shrapnel swim forever.
Sometimes, half-dreaming, I am caught in black water that beads
his back with sweat and then his terror is more real to me
than the eighty-six seconds I was held underwater by a cousin
tired of my playing in her pool, more real
than the beach-ball grin death wears when you are
six years old and drowning. I stroke his back,
try to pull him to the surface. On the midnights
when he twists against a tide I cannot see, I am afraid
to touch his face. I am frightened he will feel
my love and feel himself held under.