the gift

when an eight year old boy
wants to love you,
he tries to give you what he thinks you need,
what his conscious mind can conjure up,
and if you need that kind of love too,
if you want to love him back,
you try to thank him for his tender attempts,
but it is almost impossible because he is bound to adore you,
and you can't do anything about it,
even early in the morning,
trying to fry eggs,
both of us groggy but happy;
I notice he has a book under his arm,
which he offers to me,
a novel — even though I know he doesn't read novels, unless he has to, for school —
which he surreptitiously had packed along with his toothbrush and flashlight,
as if to say,
I want to be like you,
teach me how,
and I say,
hey that's really cool,
I read that book when I was your age,
you'll really like this part,
and I point at the bare pages with my spatula;
his eyes don't move away,
listing to the side a bit, a kind of grin on the small of his face,
tell me more, he says,
tell me more,
and he knew what to say,
to grab my heart from the fried eggs,
to this home we had crazily carved out,
for a time,
just the two of us to share

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