I met a boy when I was only sixteen,
A boy whose eyes looked like they had seen the earth swallow him up
and glimpsed the ground close over his head.
He looked like he had sat under the crust,
breathing the air that filtered through the dirt,
waiting until he could rise up again.
Looking at his eyes and his hands,
I could tell that this boy had breathed deeply of the earth air
before tearing his way back;
past where the roots started to grow again
until he finally burst from the ground like a sapling tree.
When I looked at his lips,
I saw that they had guarded a kind of innocence
that is so rare in us,
and so unexpected from a boy in his circumstance.
Somehow, it had survived within him
and even when he was twenty feet underground
he remained unbroken
and possessed of a very great sweetness
that can only come from very great sadness.
All this I saw and more.
When things got bad,
the boy pulled his heart right out of his own chest
and tossed it through the fire that burned down his house.
Nothing could have kept it safe,
but when he walked through the heat
and emerged with burned limbs, broken hands, and a twisted stomach,
it was waiting for him.
The silly little organ
was tarnished by soot and tender to the touch
but when he pushed it back into his chest,
it drummed like nothing bad had ever happened.
It survived the fire whole,
and with every beat it forgot the smoke damage
and remembered the the way it was always meant to be.
And when I met this boy, his heart taught mine a thing or two.