I wanted to protect you
I wanted to protect you from death
and so I lied
about the boy in the casket
who was anything but sleeping.
I wanted to protect you from violence
and so I bought a gun
to keep beneath my mattress.
To protect you from heartache
I said your Yorkie ran away
after I washed the dirt
from his grave down the drain.
To protect you from adulthood
I hid your gifts in the attic
until Christmas morning,
and took a million photos
of your joyful face
to keep you the same age.
I wanted to protect you from the elements,
the heat, the cold, the rain,
and so, come summer, our AC would run nonstop,
while the winter would fill our lungs with woodsmoke
and my hands with the callused work of cutting.
I wanted to protect you from apathy,
so I nurtured your every whim,
speaking with invisible friends,
naming the grasshoppers you caught in the lawn,
hanging your crude drawings of houses
under magnets on the fridge.
I wanted to protect you from disease,
and so you’re now afraid of needles,
despite my promises of ice cream.
I wanted to protect you from fear
so I said, “Of course, monsters aren’t real.”
I wanted you to be safe,
to know love like a blanket
fresh from the wash,
to know each living thing
as a tooth on a cog, amid the wheels
and gears of a grand machine we’ll never see.
But I was wrong
to try and protect you from this world,
to think you’d never know the itch
and swell of its sting,
something as simple as flesh
serving the purpose of food
for the microcosm beneath.