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  • Jimmy Broccoli

I Don't Have to Understand

When you’re a meth addict you either die or you lose your teeth –

it’s just the way it is – it’s one or the other

Daniel takes out his artificial teeth before bed and looks at his reflection in the mirror

Handsome, damaged – and amazing!

Drug-free for 5 years – and I tell him how proud of him I am

He leans into me like I’m a security blanket or a Teddy bear

I accept his affection gladly - embracing him is a field of dandelions

Embracing him is the best part of my day


I know better than to talk about his father

It’s just something (someone) we don’t talk about


He opens a fresh bottle of sauvignon blanc – it’s our 1-year anniversary

I splurged on the helium balloons from the party store because this day is important –

Our friends fill our living room, our kitchen, our hallway, and our porch –

It’s a long-overdue festival for us and for all of our friends

And I have never seen him smile this much during a single day

He looks happy… (and, I know I am)

Tears at night are fairly regular –

The combination of the stillness of evening and of memories better erased –

I hold him – it’s the wee hours of the morning (and it’s okay) –

He sobs for better remembrances – he sobs for a better childhood –

I do not speak as I gentle stroke his hair, as his face is against my chest –

Then I say, “I am here” - and he nods his head gently without speaking

He is strong – my goodness… he is Hercules at the gym –

He out-runs me – he is (much) stronger than I am –

and his muscles threaten to escape his too-tight t-shirts –

He’s perfect – with insecurities that stretch for several city blocks

He’s perfect. He’s perfect for me

Panic attacks are best met with an inhaler and a Xanax

It’s a few (or several) minutes of Hell and then he is granted the luxury of exhaling…

He then hears the sound of birds chirping outside our apartment window

or feels the kisses of our dog against his face (this happens often) –

and he is a little bit better –

the emergency has turned into an uncomfortable (but doable) moment –

I hold him close and wait for the medication to solidify his okayness…

I arrive home from work early – because I receive a call from the neighbor –

“I’ve got this” I tell the neighbor as I embrace my love like he’s fragile

Like he’s gold

Like he’s the most important thing in the world –

and I take him inside…

because he is all of these things

His mother calls on the phone and asks for him –

I hang up the phone because she can go to hell –

she knew – she knew – she always knew –

and she did nothing –

To my friends I refer to her as “dead” because that is what she is –

it doesn’t matter if she continues to breathe

It’s 3:00 am and the nightmares are more intense than usual –

I turn the nightstand light on and speak softly to him – I speak gently –

We watch several minutes of a late-night horror movie –

and this seems to comfort him –

I don’t let go of him – I embrace him until I hear him snoring –

I don’t let go because it is what I do

It just is – and I’m okay with that

The local city park is where we go to gather ourselves –

to re-discover the beauty of (urban) nature –

to listen to the birds and to watch the trees sway in the breeze or in the wind –

He takes my hand in his as we walk – and I can’t help but smile… (and I do not stop)

He is everything – he’s absolutely everything –

and his hand is within mine – there is no greater heaven


Along with athletic shorts and a t-shirt,

he wears socks and running shoes to bed…

he’s 37 years old…

And I don’t say anything about it

It doesn’t matter if I understand

I don’t have to

…because I love him

I love him very much –

I don’t have to understand

Photo: Jimmy Broccoli.

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