It was as if to be broken was love

I know what it’s like to love someone who hurts you. “The Far Field” is able to capture this inner conflict with excruciating tenderness.

The Far Field, Patrick Lane

We drove for more than an hour, my father’s hands
on the truck’s wheel, taking us farther and farther
into the hills, both of us watching
the sagebrush and spare pines drift
past, both of us silent. He did not know
what to do with me. I think he thought of
my death, as a man will whose son has chosen
to destroy. I think that’s why he drove
so long, afraid to stop for fear
of what he’d do. My mother had cried
when we left, her hands over her mouth,
saying through her splayed fingers
my father’s name, speaking
that word as if it were a question. I
sat there peaceful with him,
knowing for these hours he was wholly mine.

He stripped me naked in the last hour of day
and made me stand with my back to him, my bare
feet in dust, my back and buttocks to him,
a naked body, hands braced upon the hood,
staring across the metal at the hills.

I remember the limb of the tree falling
upon me, the sound of the white wood crying
as it hurt the air, and the flesh of my body
rising to him as I fell to the ground and rose
only to fall again. I don’t remember pain,
remember only what a body feels
when it is beaten, the way it resists
and fails, and the sound of my flesh.

I rose a last time, my father dropping
the last limb of the tree beside me.
I stood there in my bones wanting it not to be
over, wanting what had happened to continue, to go
on and on forever, my father’s hands on me.

It was as if to be broken was love, as if
the beating was a kind of holding, a man
lifting a child in his huge hands and throwing him
high in the air, the child’s wild laughter
as he fell a question spoken into both their lives,
the blood they shared pounding in their chests.

It does get better. Tell someone you trust.

Yes, all of this is sorrow. But leave
a little love burning always
like the small bulb in the room of a sleeping baby
that gives him a bit of security and quiet love
though he doesn’t know what the light is
or where it comes from
– Yehuda Amichai

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