An Unwritten Rule?

Have you ever been
In a store
Filled with very expensive,
And very fragile
Crystal artwork?

Did it have
One of those signs?
The one that says,
“You break it,
It’s yours.”
Or maybe,
“You can look,
But please don’t touch.”

Why is it that I feel as if
I should paint that sign
On everyone I see
That’s not a member
Of my family?

Why is it that I feel as if
I should encase my hands
In gloves
Every where I go.
So that my hands
Can’t touch anyone?

Why is it that I feel as if
I should keep everyone
Out of my reach,
So that I can’t accidentally
Touch them in any way.

Why do I keep rewriting
That old baseball saying,
“No runs, no hits, no errors”
So that it says instead,
“No hugs, no hands, no contact”?

Why is it that I feel as if
I should go away
To keep everyone else
Safe from me?

Why do I feel this way?

I’ve noticed this
When I go to church,
And talk briefly
With my friend.
How somehow
It just feels like
I should keep her
Out of my reach.

Why do I feel like that?

Why is it that I feel
That I have to cross my arms
In front of me,
As if to make a barrier.
When I talk with someone
In the church.
When I talk with someone
At work.
I don’t get that at all.

Why is it that I feel as if
I have to put my hands
Deep in my pockets
When I’m walking
With someone I know.
That’s not a member
Of my family.

I don’t get that at all.

It’s as if something’s telling me
That I have to do such things
When other people are around.
Because other people
Just plain don’t understand
The way that I am.
Because the way I am
Just seems to frighten them.
And make them nervous
Around me.

As if I’m hearing words that say,
“I like you,
You know that.
But I just don’t want to take the risk
Of letting you become a friend.
There’s something about you
That I don’t understand.
And that makes me nervous.
So I’ll talk to you.
But I’ll do everything I can
To keep you as a person
That I know.
You won’t ever
Be my friend.
You scare me
Don’t you know.”

Sometimes it all gets to me.
These feelings that I have.
That I have to stay away
From almost everyone.
So that they can feel
Completely safe
From me.

I just don’t get that at all.
And I can’t help but wonder
If everyone feels that way
About everyone else.

Then isn’t everyone
Painfully alone?

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