Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I rarely touch anyone with an exposed palm, instinctively closing my fingers and brushing people with the tougher outsides of my knuckles. I don't trust you with any of my softer spots, needing to avoid the way I sometimes hurt, not in my heart but somewhere to the left, and deeper.

And I never manage to line the facts up until after the test is over, going through the major exams on instinct rather than consideration, noting the lighter skin of your forearms but never recognizing their vulnerability. It is how I unconsciously have held you captive, like the man who kept women to torture in a pit he dug in his basement, only to tell the judge when caught that they had come with the house, as though he honestly thought a pit full of women was what his real estate agent had meant by "bonus room."

I notice my curled-under fingers at intervals over the years, remembering the day my father asked why I never hugged him back when he hugged me. I don't think we get to pick the way we protect ourselves, only reacting in whatever way our little brains have decided is the safest.

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