Somewhere within the screaming and shouting
he was taught a unique way to say, “I love you.”

Returning each school night he saw
pride was only to be carried and never given.

With a fatherly hand he would know
people as a means through which one knew fear.

In a house that was no longer a home he believed
God was an estranged man who got mothers drunk.

He would criticize himself into a man,
fucking only to feel less alone

yet always wishing he could ask them to stay
before the dark rooms faded into his sleep,

but no matter how many times he said, “I love you,”
no one could understand him.

Eventually he would lock himself inside himself,
seeing only his mistakes repeated over and over.

He would see himself for the first time
when he discovered his own words—waking

to his own reflection, the shards and space he thought he was
holding themselves together with a strength he never knew.

He hears himself say, “I love you,”
in a language he thought was lost, repeating

those words again and again; first from disbelief
and then from fear that he would forget.

He dreams for the first time,
leaving a house which speaks to him no longer.