There's a bruise on my arm
and I don't know how it got there

Not that that's unusual. I should know
I unknowingly gather webs of scratches
like angry red tally marks, notice scars whose preceding
wounds I can't recall
I never hurt myself in ways
That hint at melodrama, ways that
People will notice
I have never broken a bone
Fallen out of a tree or off a horse
And my heart has never broken
Because it has never climbed and never ridden
For I have never lost it and don't intend to

Once, or so I've heard, I was hit in the head
when I was little and it was snowing and
I drifted into a toboggan's path
But I don't remember
Don't remember anything
but the nurses asking me where
it hurts, and do I remember why?
I never do, but the wounds are always there
to remind me how I hurt myself in unassuming
little ways that no one notices
Not even me
I cannot name it, define it, tell where it came from
But I can feel it, I can try
And right now, if I were my own lover,
I would tell myself that I think we need a break from
Because right now, we're too close to catch our breath
which runs too swiftly to places that border Longing
of the variety that is not on any map
I would tell myself, we know each other's quirks and nuances
Far too well for comfort
To the extent that when I come home feeling empty and inside-out
Feeling bruised with internal illness
And I pour myself a tall glass of orange juice and
(Far more than the recommended serving size, you remind me. And not as good for you as juice companies would have you think.)
I drink it down like I believe an overdose of Vitamin C can ward off any illness
I drink it down like physically dying of thirst is the real danger,
And you watch me from the corner of the kitchen,
Sunlight backlighting your introspective smile, which says
I love you, so I will not tell you so,
but that isn't going to work

You recognize my wishful thinking,
for what it is and not what I want it to be
For you know as well as I do that
not feeling well means something different now
than it did when we were children
Back in those naively glorious days when
not feeling well meant a sniffle and
days wrapped in blankets, watching bad
daytime television and believing thin noodle soup
and fruit juice could cure you
But now it means storming and crying,
deep conversations, invasive introspection,
waking up at three a.m., sheets tangled beneath you in
a perfect mirror of your mind
And sitting, head in your hands, unable to
fall back to sleep, or articulate where it hurts

Then you wish you were five, and someone would
wrap your wheezing heart in cheerful cartoon-encrusted
Band-Aids that make you almost want to get hurt,
Wish someone would tell you that you're burning up
and you need to lie down and drink a lot of fluids
to put out the fire
But most of all, you wish you were a child again
Then you chastise yourself for acting like one,
when you catch yourself at 3 a.m. in the
throes of an adult tempter tantrum
where the f-word is your colorful Band-Aid to put over
everything that's hurting you
For, really, you should know better
Wishful thinking can only get you so far

(that is what you tell me)
You know I want you to do those things for me
pretend for me
that my pain can know a tourniquet,
To wrap me up in quilted blankets in 90 degree weather
And pretend for both our sakes that my fever is external

But you love me too well to lie to me
so, my dear, I'm sorry, but I think we need some time apart
or, at least, I need some time to figure a few things out for myself
And, darling, you know me too well

There's a bruise on my heart
And I don't know how I got here