Next To Him

By Sjohnna Mccray

It’s not about the sex, really, it’s not
the ache of the bruised nipple or the burn
left by his two-day-old beard in the crook
of my neck where the pulse is taken, it’s
his breathing when asleep that draws me near.
When I was seventeen, I’d check beside me,
hope I hadn’t rolled and squashed flat
my one-year-old brother. His sigh on my ear,
the rise and fall of air beneath his ribs,
was a miracle to me. The nightly
surprise of what I saw under the bulb’s
dim glow: I saw the small heart beating
like wings unfolding in the body. Here,
with this man, ideas of flight return.

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