poetry by RICK KEMPA
Fuck you he said when I entered the room.
His mother cringed. The nurse disguised her mirth.
Don’t mind him, she said. He doesn’t know you.
He tore the bedsheet from his groin, pointed
at his penis (intubated), grinned (or was he
wincing?) and said fuck you. His mother bolted
from the room. I moved toward her chair,
watching his big, moist eyes watch me, waiting
for them to know me. He just showed his teeth
and said fuck you. Only later did the horror
hit me: that he who loved words so much
should know only these, that I too someday
might be so exposed. I pulled the sheet up,
leaned above his face and said fuck you too.
Back and forth like this all night we went,
battling over bedsheets the way we fought
on roadtrips over the radio, slapping at
each other’s fingers, he grinning, me
laughing through tears, exchanging fuck yous
with such fervor that we might have been
saying God damn it. I love you.