This Boy Can Never Do Anything Right

by | Apr 7, 2020 | CNF

This boy sends paper airplanes skyward, hoping to touch the moon. They’re fast-devoured by air, dirt, momentum carrying them to crumple. This boy says he’s sorry to people in Walmart before he’s had a chance to brush against them. This boy knocks everything down—full glasses of water, tiny tubes of lip balm, the remote control, his phone, himself, on ice, the very picture of a fawn learning to walk—and this boy stares at his feet, at the objects mountaining around his shoes, and he knocks himself down on the inside. But this boy can’t even do shame right, because he feels guilty, is guilty, because he doesn’t have it so bad (don’t panic, don’t cry). This boy hurts his shoulder typing. This boy’s gums stay inflamed no matter how often he brushes, flosses, rinses with the green mouthwash, rinses with the blue mouthwash, rinses with the clear mouthwash that tastes like the opposite of wellness. This boy’s dentist says he must do more to reverse his expanding pockets, 4 millimeters now, to stop the bleeding, and this boy’s mother says he’s doing too much, says the mouthwash the dentist told this boy to buy is taking the skin right off her son’s gums. This boy looks at himself in the mirror, at the loose red flecks of skin pulling away from around his teeth. 

            This boy gets loose white flecks of paint all over him in the summer—in his hair, on his hands, cheeks, nose, shirt, pants, more on him than on the porch pickets—but he tries. This boy tries and tries and if he never gets any of it right, or if an agent never believes in any of the books he finishes, edits, finishes, edits, finishes, edits, queries, edits, finishes, queries, edits, queries, finishes, edits, if no one wants to read what he’s passionate about, the crimes that make his heart walk out his chest, the magic that transports this boy to the moon and back again, the romances that make him stir, a storm in silver gloaming, crashes of lightning and a bluebird’s frightened fleeing, aching and aching, earth rending, wind whipping, entering, tearing, exposing, spreading, thrusting, every cliché, every wanting, every secret desire, fireball behind this boy’s sternum, he keeps typing, keeps imagining, keeps climbing, pain and all, limbs shaking from their center core: this boy’s too-thin, too-skinny, too-much-bone, too-little-muscle body, this boy’s too-hairy, too-long, too-much-and-not-enough body, this boy’s big-hearted, long-fingered, clumsy-apparatus-of-self-that-shuffles-him-from-place-to-place body, this boy’s too-sweaty, too-grasping, too-tongue-tied, too-word-ridden body, his witness-his-embarrassment body, his all-eyes-on-this-boy’s body, his unhealthy, breaking, slow, dim-witted, intelligent, conflicted, too-awful body.

            This boy’s body will let him down before it should, and he knows it. This boy’s air will eventually sit stale and bitter in his lungs. This boy will fall down the stairs. Fall up the stairs. Fall sideways, end-over-end. This boy will crack his head on a car door, a mailbox, all accidents, all in the same day, all open, throbbing into possible concussions, hemorrhages, a hypochondriac dying an obsessive death dreams of secret brain bleeds, of Natasha Richardson, the bite of the ski slope against her face, the way her brain rebelled. This boy will let down his family. This boy will let his family down. Similar constructions, but this boy can see the differing emphasis of actions, the altered placements of verbs and nouns. This boy will disappoint, one day, but by God, he’ll fight every last step, jaw deteriorated, blood a chain. 

            This boy prays on his knees, on hardwood, for answers about his future, the path he should take, wander, and in the silence, dust motes swirling, hanging, visible in the slanting

light of a summer’s post-storm twilight, he looks into gold, sends a paper plane into gold, hoping to finally do one thing right, for once, for often, for always, forever.

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