Symbiosis by Marci Klayder Gibbens


Outside my mind, his breath is shallow;
I see him gasping for air,
his emaciated chest rising and falling.
Some days—no, many— I let him in.
I feed him, clothe him, let him soak in the bath.
I would not want him to suffer.
And yes, some days—no, many—
I let him spend the night.
You might think this would satisfy him,
rekindle his desire for independence,
and sometimes, it does.
Then, I am satisfied, my good deed committed.
I have saved a life.

In the not-so-distant future, he returns
but my hospitality wanes.
Yet, pitiful and forlorn,
he stands there, knocking once again.
Eyes staring so hungrily,
he needs feeding.
Clothes tattered and soiled,
he needs washing.
Energy depleted,
he needs rest.
So I yield.
But I stay out of his room:
No havoc
No satisfaction.

His homecoming should no longer be a surprise:
I am his home, after all.
I cannot resist him—he does not let me.
His pale skin borders on the translucent;
I can no longer sense his shadowless approach.
A considerate and grateful guest no more,
he eats all my food
so he starts in on me,
he wears all my clothes
so he puts me on too,
he drains the hot water
so he starts little fires,
he sprawls out across my whole bed
so there is no room left for me.

He is Pain.
He is me.


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Marci Klayder Gibbens
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