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I probably won’t be able to ask
you the question without
disrespecting my own past,
so I won’t ask you

I won’t ask, for instance
what it is about that flame
that makes you unbuckle from
the safety of your own better
judgement, lie to your family
and take the late night train
towards the same place you
had needed to be rescued from,
the same man who had put you
out in the street in the middle
of an Indiana blizzard,
the same man who had sent you
to the ER with a broken face,
and for what, just so you
could embrace again and again
the possibility of burning

I won’t ask either what you
could be seeing that all of us
who love you might be missing,
as you sit among roomfuls of
shadows where you are obviously
not welcome, as you sleep through
the loud voices of his detrimental
devotion, that convinces you each
dawn to stay another day, to think
that it’s OK to let your child
see you being treated so low,
to cut off from your soul
all the things you’ve worked for

You won’t hear from my lips
that I sincerely want to know
how far you think you can take this
before you’ve exchanged all
the treasures of your being
for what, a hungry silence by his
side, a handful of scrap affection,
and some cheap reminders of
how he used to make you feel

and how much you think
his promises are worth
on the darkest hour when
your choices start emptying
their bullets and make
target practice of the collage
of your dreams on the walls

and do you love yourself
and what you think that means

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