remembering then

I remember a time when I was three or maybe four

And I learned that human beings were flawed

And I built myself an iron bubble

that no one could break into

But over the years of general wear and tear

the bolts were loosened and I opened up

I jumped straight into the undertow

And twenty-six years later things are pretty much the same

I kept my suspicions close to me

and my cynicism closer

and even at the age of thirty, I regretfully remember

I remember the sunlight patch in front of the preschool

and the funny lady teacher who told us

she had no bellybutton!!!

and I had many bad dreams about her missing bellybutton

for years

to be honest it still bothers me.

I remember when I was five or six

my family went to the National Zoo

And I remember we walked through

the house of the Giraffes,

I stared up at their long-long necks

finding in me some deep respect

And all of a sudden I was drenched in slimy saliva

The asshole spit all of his water on me.

That’s when I distinctly understood

the importance of remaining humble.

Remember when my little brother was born

and I was in awe then, too

He was so small and beautiful,

a truly gentle soul

and I watched him grow, and I bullied him

until he grew taller than me

Now he’s in his twenties, a full-grown man

he makes me smile and laugh like nobody else can

and he reminds me that there are men in the world

who are good and honest and true

I never knew when I first met him

(that little curly-haired bundle in the hospital room)

that he would be my favorite human being

I never knew that I’d be this lucky

in spite of all of my doubts

For all that there is on this planet

for all of the ugly displays of the human condition

for every asshole in this melting pot

there is someone I love to balance things

family, friends, and strangers I meet

For every moment that I have felt sad or alone

there are at least ten filled with love and affection

I remember when I was three or four,

and I wanted there to be so much more

I had no idea what I was asking for

And decades later after all of the people we touch

It was just enough,

on the verge of being too much

I couldn’t have foreseen when I was three or four

that I could not possibly ask for more.

leah ruthe

 

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