I cannot For the life of me Stand the way you flit beyond my reach How in moments when I least expect it You cut through the corner of my vision And catch me off-guard So the breath catches in my lungs And my heart takes up a fluttering guard Within my throat. I hate how I can still see you Even now. Eyes opened Eyes closed It makes no difference. I can still see you Leaning over your desk With this look on your face Like you’d seen everything And been everywhere And still hadn’t had a chance to rest. And all along the way there’d been surprises And none of them good And at this point they weren’t even surprises anymore Just another tick mark to add to the litany of disaster. I’d never in my life seen anyone Look so beaten down So utterly done in and done for By the random cruelties life inflicts. I thought I had known the face of despair before But I knew nothing Before I saw that look pour down your face That look of utter desolation Of anxious disorientation Of abused-child resignation. I thought I could understand pain until I watched your hands fumble on a phone And writhed in utter ineffective grief At the way the pattern of your voice outlined its endless catalog of distress and devastation and set the ghosts to dancing in your eyes. You looked like the oldest child that the world had ever known and I reacted like the most incongruous parent the world had ever seen but all I wanted was to pick you up and lift you free and raise you clear of the flood waters and give you a space in which to breath or a rope to hold onto until the torrent abated but somehow I can’t shake the feeling that all I managed to do was hand you a rope to hang yourself with and somehow ended up hanging myself right along side.