All I ever wanted to be was a song— 
something soft and light held in the mouth 
sung sweet beneath the coming dawn. 
I return to that first desire—its gingham blouse 

rubbed against the heavy pull of flesh hovered
in a dark that I can only recall as that dark.
I ask what grace awaits that tender tendril’s suffered
stretch of green wide enough to tear a stark 

light out from under a troubled sky? I return
to the center of that smallness and sing its wounds—
jagged rasp crooned until edged out and earned.
I was the only boi I knew dreaming in soft bruise. 

And it made me as beautiful as the blood’s slow sprawl
at my knee, right before punching a bullying boy to crawl.

Copyright © 2023 by Jari Bradley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 22, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.