Poem: To Hold You

To hold you in my arms
once in a hundred years,
to feel your warmth and breath,
your frailty and strength, your breast
rising and falling against mine,
I’d trade half my life. I’d give up
a valley of gold, never grow old,
smash the clocks and bend my bones,
live on noodles and rice,
forfeit a Pulitzer prize,
die unknown.
Forget love, respect, friendship,
food and a bed.
I claim the nightmares in my head,
the ghosts on Gettysburg Avenue,
the years in a cold or hot cell,
the chest-breaking loneliness,
the meaninglessness.
I’ll carry it like a beast, but let me hold you
for a minute at least, or five, or an hour,
one time in my ragged life.

Give me the loneliness
of steel steps and dawn ice,
the brokenness of regret.
Take what you like:
Everything I’ve suffered to learn,
everything I’ve bled and bruised for,
the last shred
of sweet magic, the soil
in which ideas are born,
the diamond that fell
through the grate;
take my scalding tears;
the marrow of my faith;
but don’t leave me
in this place
with sweat and ashes on my face
never having held you
in my arms.

Wael Abdelgawad
October 24, 2015
Fresno, California

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