I would write you a poem
But I feel that all the words have been used.
Everyone has repeated themselves
And each other.
What news can I bring to you?
What insight can I give to he who knows it all?
Perhaps it might not feel like you do,
But the harder I try, the older I get.
And I can’t shake the image of you
As the older,
The one from which all virtues shine
The one people aspire to imitate.
Perhaps the wisdom I gain with each passing year
Is that you’ve been through more than I, and
More than I will ever know.
So what insight can I bring to he who has suffered
And he who has questioned
And he who has learned what it means to be floating
To be drowning
You are there, now, swimming like you learned when you were eight
And I watch from the shore, holding no life-saver,
Unable to swim far to reach you where you are.
I cannot know you
But I watch with awe and sadness and fear
Helpless on my firm ground
Which holds me up to tell you that I love you.
What other insight can I give?
My brother and I shared a room until I was nine. I joined his room when I was born, taking up space with the crib our father built. My brother welcomed my invasion with late-night stories of green-eyed aliens in the closet. The nook-like closet could hardly fit an adult, but it was enormous. A space for a whole colony of aliens. My bed was closer to this danger zone, which meant that the aliens would eat me first when they emerge. For years, I slept with my knees tucked up so the aliens wouldn’t get my toes.
The floor was covered in a dark blue carpet that was speckled with yellow, red, and orange dots. I would wake up after surviving the scary nights, and step onto the carpet of dots. It looked like a night sky, and I was a morning astronaut standing upside down to count the planets. I would walk through the universe inside our own room.
Then came the glow-in-the-dark star stickers my brother shared with me, which I could merely look at, but never touch. They covered the ceiling, illuminating the dots in the carpet below. I stared at our private skylight of stars only we could see, forgetting about the aliens in the closet. We slept between two universes: one on the carpet below, and one on the ceiling above. The stars were real, and the aliens were not.