When did I learn the word “I”?
What a mistake. For some,
     it may be a placeholder,
     for me it’s a contagion.
For some, it’s a thin line, a bare wisp,
     just enough to be somewhere
     among the gorgeous troublesome you’s.
For me, it’s a thorn, a spike, its slimness
     a deceit, camouflaged like a stick insect:
     touch it and it becomes what it is:
ravenous slit, vertical cut, little boy
     standing upright in his white
     communion suit and black secret.

More Poems by Michael Ryan