I fell upon you an empathetic stranger.
Unhesitant I offered my hand to
lift you from the roadside.
By reflex you curled up against me, whimpering.
Panic frayed the thread-thin memory
as I noticed my clothes, blood spattered—
my knuckles, bruised and swelling.
You waited naked for my final say.
I swear my lips shaped three soft syllables,
yet the sound came somehow undone.
Your battered body hit the floor. You cried out.
All was confusion. And I, incredulous,
felt my palm heavy with stones.
I had meant to place a kiss
upon the source of your worried murmurs,
to seal them away by my sign.
But I kissed with closed eyes.
I missed and kissed your cheek.
At that you were carried off. I could hear
sobbing only from a distance,
being he who decreed the sentence.
I did not know the spirit
that breaks bread
can break bone—
In the beginning there was the Word.
The four letters between us.
In the end there were the words.
We said love.
You read hate.
I meant fear.