When I was in college, I met a young man who was a friend of my next door neighbor in the dorms. Beyond the dark stories of his past that he told me, and his unwavering encouragement to write, he also revealed his secret. I wasn’t prepared for his admission. In his moment of extreme vulnerability, I should have embraced him, but I could only stand frozen in place unsure of what to say or do. After an awkward goodbye, I only saw him in glimpses. He became different, darker. My lack of knowledge and compassion that day still haunts me.

It wasn’t until years later, as I saw the scars of a cutter as she told us of her own dark past that I relived that day in school. This was written for both of them.


once more
I can't tell you why

but let the masque fall,
the scars of the Deceiver

think of The Dream,
that can lift you up

so you can name the clouds
from atop
your metal dragon

fish lightning
from thunder
the color of lilac

and as you leap without voice
back to earth,
to the black sands

send your prayer
full of fire and light
through the tide pool of stars.