first it was hand squeezing
balled up fists digging fingernail into
the palm of tiny hands
I’d pry them apart slowly singing
a song or telling a story
making no mention of the tiny wounds on
tiny hands

tic tic tic tic

if I didn’t bite my fingernails since the first
day I discovered teeth
down to the quick
near to the bone
always under control
I might not have understood
his first tic

blinking came on full
force eyes opening and closing
thousands of times in a day
unable to bring anything into focus
unwilling to stare anything
down I don’t know how then he learned to
ride a bike

tic tic tic tic

if I didn’t too struggle to look the world full
focus with an unending resolve
and a solidarity of
spirit when everything
spins and is being undone before
my eyes I might have been frustrated at
his second tic

he licks his lips until they are chapped
cracked and bleeding
but he can receite the population of
almost every country and
knows statistics about everything and
history and invention and all
the facts

tic tic tic tic

if I didn’t contain multitudes too
dry lips from telling stories from
truth so sacred it claws its way from
my face my mouth my voice
I’m all emotion he’s everything facts but
I understand his
third tic

by the time he enters junior high
the tics are all but gone
which is I guess why they were
diagnosed transient
just one day packed up the
baggage and left only
the scars


my wounds continue weeping
well into my middle age
all fear and trembling all
always wishing I could be
raised fist and steady eye
strong voice and on
the move