I called to you for help and you were there

On the beach, November, cold and alone, I lay there
looking up. I sensed you there and pushed to bring you
into focus. I started to cry and could not cry. My
face was scrunched up like a baby's. It was trapped
inside me--a belt around my chest, a hand at my throat.
I called to you for help and you were there, above me
in the air, as you looked at maybe 42, your eyes dark
and glistening. I told you that I had been the way I was
with you: recalcitrant, bristling, itching for a brawl
because I was afraid of you, afraid of becoming you--
a shy countryboy who crumbled cornbread into his buttermilk,
who knew nothing but work from Day One, whose only vices
were being too honest, too generous for your own good.
I could breathe now, sighing, and my eyes were open.
I said I understood now, where it came from, the fear
and that I accepted you, now, and wanted you to be with me.
That we never talked, is done with--no guilt on either side.
I have not been able to accept what I am yet, and where
I come from. I want your help. I need you.
I held out my arms to you and you moved down
toward me steadily, and I could see your eyes as
you approached, fixed on mine--the reflections of me
lying there, confused, snotty-nosed helpless, and you
merged with me in a nimbus of light, and I wrapped my
arms around you as you came to me and I sobbed, deep and
long, and thanked you for letting me let you in, at last.

[Ken McCullough, 'Visitation' {for Robert E. McCullough, 1908-1972}, from 33 Minnesota Poets]

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