Outgrowing My Mentor

I sat at your feet;
metaphorically, of course, only metaphorically;
as I remember it, I sat on the couch,
as you, with your strangely lilting voice,
held my hand and walked me through;

patiently;

meticulously;

the pitiless steps of the reverent ritual.

You were so gentle
as you wrapped the tourniquet around my bicep;
laughed at the expression on my face
pinched the crook of my arm
to bruise and raise a vein.
and as you slid the needle in and we watched the blood
cloud the water inside,

you apologized, profusely,

for the infinitesimal pinprick

that precedes the rapture.

I swore to you,
in that ghastly and gorgeous moment,
this is how it would always be;

that you would be there,

by my side, every time,

to guide me down the path of night.
but like the other oaths that passed between us,
this too, was a hopeful lie.

The day came, as it was

ever

destined to do,
that you were gone;
selling yourself
in the fashion required
for you to get by;
and the pull of oblivion
proved stronger, by far,
than either love or trust or art,

so I took the syringe and

taught myself

not to need you anymore.

Photograph by Benjamin O’Reilly

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