7/3 – separate cages

Often our fingers touch in sleep or half-enlace.
Often I've breathed easier through some nightmare by that gentle grasp.
Last night I woke, though, to your hand across mine in an unfamiliar,
twisted position that seemed so removed, so strangely external.
Some object whose weight, volume and form I'd never noticed,
the skin taut and resistant, stricken with fresh lines, splayed out
with veins stretched forth like pillars of a church.

Then they twitched, your fingers curling tensions and releases,
as if in some attempt to seize the air within its palm.
Suddenly you jerked it back, sweeping my pillow, and you sat upright
and there, remained, palms flat on the bed, hair tangled over your face.

Then with a sigh like gravel, like a snarl, you fell back on the bed
and lay there, still, hands retreating to your chest, head turned defiantly,
forbidding me, I thought, from what had raised you in that moment.

With baited breath, I hoped in silence that you'd wake, and turn to me,
but you stayed in yourself, chest rising and falling alone, and I thought
how separate we all are from one another, how even our passions,
which aim to express unity outside of us, heal just the small divisions,
and for our more abiding, ancient nightmares we each must find our own valor.
You breathed more softly then, though; I took heart and touched your curls,
and, as though nothing happened, you opened your eyes and smiled at me,
and murmured—how nearly startling to hear your real voice—"sleep, love."