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I can offer your woundedness
only my own woundedness,
presented in honesty,
unadorned.

To those with battered hearts,
tattered hearts,
hearts ripped out of chests in ribbons
like entrails;
to those with crying babies behind their faces,
with crying babies inside their chests,
with crying babies inside their guts,
with crying babies inside their privates;
to those who’ve lost hope,
to those who’ve never had hope,
to those for whom hope has been fool’s gold
in mousetrap after mousetrap
after mousetrap after mousetrap:
I can offer your woundedness
only my own woundedness,
presented in honesty,
unadorned.

Our wounds are different
but we hold them out to each other,
not to compare or compete
or play mine-is-bigger-than-yours,
but to connect,
and to feel like we’re not alone,
like a child with a missing arm
meeting a child with a missing leg,
or a dog on a leash who was stolen from its mother
meeting another dog on a leash who was stolen from its mother,
or an immigrant in a cage
meeting another immigrant in a cage.
We share an intimate bond
and we speak our own private language,
and we are recognized,
and we are seen,
and we are understood.

To those who’ve been bashed, thrashed,
brutalized, betrayed,
abandoned, abused,
mistreated, misunderstood:
I can offer your woundedness
only my own woundedness,
presented in honesty,
unadorned.
Not to spin my own wounds as special or unique,
not to reframe woundedness in a positive light,
not to lie and say everything happens for a reason,
not to lie and say everything works out for the best,
not to lie and assure you that the hard part’s over,
but simply to show you that I too am made of soft stuff,
and I too can be ripped open to the bones,
and we both are fragile,
and we both have known pain,
and we both live that truth,
and truly see each other.

A little girl meets a little boy on a bridge
and says “I’ll show you mine
if you show me yours.”
He shows her his prosthetic arm.
She shows him her prosthetic leg.
And they stare at each other,
unadorned.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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