I’ve always
been a sucker
for a kicked dog,

always eager to defend
the bruised and beaten.

I am not afraid
when your true face
creeps out after dark;

I have no fear of your ghosts
and how they cling to every bone
peaking through skin.

I am not the image
your eyes reflect.

I know you do not love me.

It doesn’t matter.
I can champion your weight.
I can stitch together skin.

You are not the first
damaged man I strapped
to my back.

I have more strength
than you know.