to be soft

his mother and i
stare at the inflamed tendon
protruding from his thin, bruised wrist.

“i can’t work anymore,”
the 17 year old reveals.
“i can’t write, so the teachers said
i can’t go to school.
i don’t feel like doing anything
or hanging out liked i used to.”

there is a pause. his mother is nodding.
earlier, she said that she doesn’t understand english.
i think of how heavy pain is, and wonder
if his mother can feel the weight of his.

“i was surprised by what happened to me.
but i ain’t soft.
i don’t want them to think i’m soft.”

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