He knew how to love but not how be loved or how to draw it down into his toes, down the bottom of his stomach or how to suck into the back of his mind or have his bones or brains drink it.
An accident, he’d been, that’s what his mother had said, over and over, whenever he was bold or brazen, like that time when he gulped a sup of his father’s gin, aged 7, fell over and vomited on her shoes.
You are disgusting, go to your room, wait till your father comes home, he’ll put some manners on you and whip you into shape, this evening when he comes home, you won’t get away with it, she screamed in his ear.
Deaf it was, from all the yelling, but the words cut through anyhow, and he forgot what love felt like. On his knees, he’d plead with God to teach him again and he learned how to love but not how to be loved.
He became a loving husband and doting father, tender-handed, rock-solid, he’d painted over his cracks, ignored his fractures, capitulated to the enduring frost inside, the exclusion zone no one could enter
not even his devoted wife or gorgeous kids who’d tried so hard to make him see, to make him feel, to make him grasp just how much but couldn’t melt the ice inside, enter the exclusion zone, penetrate area 51.
To his dying days, he was a shouldn’t have been, an accident, a mistake, knew how to love but not how to be loved, his roots extending way down into area 51 imprisoned there by his mother who hadn’t wanted him.
No one ever taught him how to want himself, how to eat or drink love. Make sure you learn how to let salty tears melt the ice inside, break into area 51 and how to eat bread and drink water.