I'm 28 years old in the flesh but in a mirror all I can see is a boy after his first crew cut, five years old and wondering what happened to his hair, disbelieving it would ever grow back, as the barber and his grandfather promised, while he wept, silently, trembling air through his lips, pointing at his hair strewn across a tiled floor. My grandfather unwrapped sour balls for both of us, and, leaving his Falcon behind, walked with me to the woods. These woods, he said, are yours. They were mine, but I give them to you. I am old, and it is only right they should now belong to you. I have lived most of my life in the absence of that gentle voice, and those woods of mine were clear-cut years ago, but my hair, I wear it long in honor of him.
Inside this grave womb that drums and groans as it takes picture after picture of my spine I hear it seem to say go / you go don’t / you go don’t go / don’t go now / don’t I’m 52, inside this calibrated tube, this picture box and singing machine that will tell my doctors if the drugs and transplanted marrow have been killing the tumors set on killing me go / don’t grow don’t / go The droning chant of this temporary tomb returns me to Junuh at the ocean only four and screaming into the waves the two of us charging, arms flailing like the fleshy swords they are the water beating us back before we Charge! again, roaring the whole time. We can’t give up. We have to fight, he says. And back in we go wild into the wake. don’t go / don’t go / don’t go now / grow grow / you grow / no don’t / go don’t / grow go / no