Brian Rose

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 19:38 -- slangit

When Auntie Mal passed, young Brian Rose tried to sleep forever.

He lay in the gray bathtub 

And let his 16-year-old brain slip into the ether.


It wasn’t so much that he missed Auntie Mal Rose

just that it was very difficult 

to not believe her.


“You’ll never be nothin without me!”

Followed by the scratch of her nails

Over and over like needle pricks


“I wish you were gone like your parents!”

Since he was three, building up scaly scars

to heal over bruises from scratches and kicks.


Brian woke up as they were pumping his stomach.

His insides felt full of holes, like Swiss cheese.

Even after years and years, some of them never healed.


So 17 year old Brian ignored his friends.

19 year old Brian fought in the street.

22 year old Brian filled his body with smoke and other thorns, because at least those felt real.


22 year old Brian took a new name, Dragon, to match his new muscles.

Dragon stood on the crutches of gin and his thorns.

He could rob a deaf old lady or terrify a junkie without blinking, mostly because the thorns kept him asleep.


Though he slept, Dragon could crack.

Little things closed his throat without warning, a shattering glass, purple roses,

the brush on his hand of fingernails belonging to “you freakin creep!”


“You freakin creep” aka Philip

aka Soup Kitchen Guy aka “Woah, buddy, you alright? Breathe with me”

Aka an unremarkable stranger made remarkable by empathy


Philip takes Dragon’s hand

Breaks off invisible brambles

Warms Dragon with soup, with space, with a smile like a symphony.


And every day Dragon spends

Working at the sunny little kitchen

Sunny little Philip cracks away more branches


There are good days and bad days

Sometimes he hears Auntie Mal in his own mouth

But he tries not to leave Philip with too many scratches.


Dragon trades his leather jacket for an apron

Slowly, slowly waking up

But he holds back—for both him and Philip—he’s still scared


He hasn’t stood alone

Worry builds up in him, sounding like Auntie Mal

How does he know Philip can help, can be prepared?


He’s been talking out loud

Philip rests a hand on his shoulder,

says “Hey. I’m ready to help. I like you here,”


And kisses him

Philip kisses him, like some cliche fairytale prince,

and Brian Rose feels more awake than he has in all his years.

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