The Father and Son Tempest

 

Sitting on the Kitchen Floor

Gasping, sweating.

A paradox

Fills my mind.

I always loved hugs.

From my mom.

My teachers.

Bear hugs.

Light hugs.

But this was not

Such a hug.

You had always said

“no” to hugs.

Your baby self cried

Till we put you down.

You wriggled free.

Avoided touching,

Recoiling from hands,

And touches of love.

No bedtime snuggles,

No sitting curled upon my lap,

No tucks against my cheek

Listening to fairy tales.

When you watched “toons”

Sometime you allowed

A pretend arm wrestle.

Sometimes, in summer

A push on your swing.

But an invisible field

Surrounded you.

Pushing touches away.

Then you began to mature.

Your body confusing.

Legs growing.

Arms out of Sync.

Change assembled and

Fought for space in your mind.

Then formed the dark cloud,

Of a storm approaching.

Fueled by

School traumas,

Bullies and rejection.

Now.

Sullen, angry, silences.

Changes condensed

And eroded the fragile casing

That kept you intact.

You transformed,

From soft, quiet, and polite

And you WERE rage,

A 90 pound spring tied

in a howling Gordion knot.

When the explosions happened

I took your arm,

Knowing you would recoil

Yank it free.

Lash out

Run

Kick

Only a millisecond,

For me to lunge.

Grab your arms,

Fold them in a cross

Around your chest,

Over your heart.

My hands over yours.

We crashed to the tile,

To the ground.

Bruises.

Blood.

A cacophony of sound.

My legs around your body,

Locked with all my strength

Hugging you into immobility.

Chin arched

over your shoulder,

Locked into your neck

Turned to avoid the bite,

The spit,

The screams

You drilled

Into my ear.

Obscenities foreign

Exploded from you,

And so ensued

Our Sisyphean battle.

I held you, and held you.

And held you more.

Talking. Whispering.

Repeating “It’s ok, I love you,”

Praying for the stamina

To oulast

Your growing strength

On you would struggle,

Straining to be free.

Then relaxing.

Feigning submission,

Waiting for my strength to wane.

And when it did not

Yet came another

Crashing, drowning wave,

Your body fighting to uncoil.

Your pain pouring across

Our consciousness.

Into the night.

My inner savage fought

To contain its own rage.

To hug and contain,

To croon, to sing

To will what peace

Remained within me

to burrow into you.

To absorb your torment

In my own flesh,

Exchange with you

What serenity

I could still find in mine.

When the storms

Came as the gentling of a sea wind

When the waves

Are a whisper less strong,

The water churns more slowly,

The caps no longer foam.

Your heart knows

The worst has passed.

Now, both spent

Our energies depleted,

As I thanked God

For having just enough

More than you.

You became whole again.

“Dad. You can let go.”

“I’m ok now. I’m sorry.”

And for a brief moment,

Our deathly clutch evolved

Into the hug

I wanted most to have.

The one where you and I

Were connected

By flesh and spirit.

No longer were we

Tossed by hot angry seas,

But gently fanned

By the breath of God.

When the calm came,

We sometimes faced each other.

And I said things you didn’t

Really understand.

About keeping you from being hurt,

Keeping everyone safe.

You would nod, accepting

But not understanding.

Today

You do not

Turn from hugs.

And I can

Approach you

Squeeze you

In my arms

Somehow

You have opened

A door

Or perhaps WE

Have opened a door..

Yesterday Mom.

Asked you

To wake me.

To take you

To your doctor.

And you woke me with a hug.

And a smile.

A calm sea, with the

Morning sun on the horizon.

You have  at last

Found your way

To touch back.

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