High Longing Time

We tumble along. One million two hundred nine thousand six hundred seconds since your last crossing of this threshold. You drag laces, one sneaker tied, loops as big as elephant ears. The solar-powered calculator in your hands breeds digits, times 24 times 60 times 60 again, weeks days hours to the tick-tick of your lengthening hair and harried length, stretching past the Sharpie scratch on the wall from your birthday just yesterday or so it seems.
 
Seams licking ankles, cuffs crawling up shins. These soft sweats kissed the carpet last winter. Before that, they would have swaddled you like the arms of giants. You are barely mine now and I keep losing my grip on the serrated edge of knowing you never were.
 
You ask who is heavier, who is taller, who has burped the most. I tell you it’s all me now but you’re catching up quick and so you pop off about two dozen rounds of air-bubbles from your well-honed esophagus. If I could believe in fate enough to beg its mercy, the height discrepancy may see-saw into its new alignment in due course.
 
I help you with the other shoe and touch my head to your chest. You let me do this and I imagine I can discern heartbeat under shirt, skin, wiggle. “Before you know it, baby, it’s going to be like this. You’ll go to hug your mama and I’ll be here looking up at you.” You grin and something like a chuckle rumbles and I catch the hot flicker of victory in your eyes.
 
Too soon, boy. This autonomy you so crave will come galloping at you and you will burst like the nascent tumescence fidgeting in Jack’s beans. You will spill out and unbend and rise to scrape the hot gas line threaded along the underbelly of the sky, soaking yourself in propellant and peril. Then, like the rest of us, you will swing your head around in big-eyed bafflement and search the crowds and corridors for a guidebook, a teacher, and elder, a guru. A fire extinguisher at least. And if you have not learned to temper your hunger and trust your own haphazard attempts at choice, you may find exactly what you seek.
 
This, if you care to heed my feeble warnings:
 
Watch out for love-bombs. Straight lines. Icons and iconoclasts. Listen to prophets with only one ear. Hold the lover with only one hand. Sniff with at least one half of your sixth sense the air around the champions. Shape the words to name what you smell.
 
Beware recruiters and their recruits, the faithful and faithless, backwoods zealots and penthouse swagger. Give a wide berth to anyone who woos death. Check the ink on any gospel. If it doesn’t smear, protect your flank.
 
Question most that beat synced so truly to your own.
 
All of these will have you for the small price of one fraction of your mind. After a trial period, the rest will be drawn down in monthly installments. You may forget to read the fine print. It happens to all of us.
 
Try anyway.
 
Do not cull the breadth of your head. Do not shave a hair from your longing.
 
Don’t be fooled.
 
Or do.
 
Don’t listen to me.
 
Or do.
 
You rise as you fall and the other way around too. Even now, I cannot catch you, even as I stand on my knees with my forehead brushing your chin.
 
I cannot, but I will stay here. As long as you need me to, I will pretend.
 

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