You pushed this little secret into the pocket of my palm—
‘Keep that to yourself,’ like a whiskey-softened uncle folding money into your hand
and making you promise not to tell your mother.
I closed my fingers round it like an eye shutting,
holding this hushed image inside it, letting it brood and work itself out.
You buckle and crack your knuckles like worry beads,
your words seemed too fragile to hold the weight of their meaning.
There is blood in your language, hot and full of anger.
I swore to myself that I would circle the wagons around you
and take all the arrows for you.
But you saw my pupils frantic, like black animals in a glass cage
as they watch the executioner approach.
It’s no good me taking all the arrows for you
if behind me you’re slitting your own throat.