Ian, don’t be afraid

Ian, don’t be afraid.

Your body only breaks,

so that it may further heal itself.

It has never known another lover besides you.

It has never wanted to.


Ian, it’s okay. Your father will still be your father until one of you bites down in surrender.

It won’t ever happen, because neither of you has ever had the courage to go first.

Ian, your brother still loves you. He knows about the vial of his blood that you keep hidden away on you, the one you have from slitting your brother’s hands with a pocket knife as he lay sleeping beside you. You were arguing, and he had slapped your face and you were so angry, you curled your tiny fists in rage and swore that you would avenge yourself. You keep that vial around your neck like a talisman, knowing that he and you are both cut from the same cloth, ripped from the same womb, born together upon the same dirty bed. You are men who share the same mouths and when you bite down with your teeth, you both look so much like your mother. You will always forgive your brother for what he does.

When you were young, your brother covered you in his arms, and tried his best to shield you from the violence you couldn’t see yet. There were bullets ricocheting off his cheeks as he kissed your forehead and wiped away your tears. He carried you through that tiny house in his arms until your crying turned into crystal and dropped to the floor. He made sure to pick every single one of them, every teardrop, and place them in your pocket so that you would never forget that he loved you. He carried you until you fell asleep against his chest and even then, he kept on carrying you.

Ian, these days aren’t growing colder. You are only growing older. There’s a difference. You are still striving towards that same horizon you have always been, the one bearing the faces of those loved ones you’ve seen die. Sister and Grandmother both watch together from where they stand as you try to reach them. They watch as you fall back to the earth again and shatter your wings against the open ground. That horizon will only disappear when you let it, so, don’t let it. Ian, keep your eyes open. I know how much you want to sleep. You must keep your eyes open long enough to see your mother again. She knows every secret in your head, even before you do. She has loved you a very long time.

Ian, please don’t be afraid. Fear is just knowledge you haven’t gained yet. You are still safe in your own arms. Your body cannot be stolen from you if you have already let it go. You see the car where your sister died speeding towards you in your dreams and when it runs you over, and every bone inside your body breaks like twigs snapping within the softest hands, you are so happy about it. I don’t know why.

Ian, say your prayer tonight. The one that releases you from pain. Imagine that such a prayer might exist even though you know that it cannot. Pretend still that it does. And when you can picture it enough in your head to see it clearly, whisper it through your lips with all the confidence the grandson of a priest can muster. Then, when you are still not better, when your body still feels as if it might break into a million pieces that will never come together again, when you feel as if there is not going to be a second chance for you, when you feel as if you might close your eyes and never see another beautiful smile again,


Think of your mother and all that she has ever wanted for you. Give thanks that you were ever taught to kneel in the first place.

Ian Powell-Palm is a writer, poet, and musician currently living in Bozeman, Montana. You can find out more about his poetry and his future readings at his Facebook page, Powell-Palm Poetry.

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