His smirk and my ego beget silence. He didn’t even know our affair would result in a birth, of sorts.

I was looking past him at the wall, and my face was ironed like a crisp white shirt mixed with steam, starch, and a teaspoon of brown sugar. I was a homogeny awaiting a savory backdrop. Tasteless.

I felt like dying, not because of his dismissive withdrawal from the orifice of my spirit, but because I’d been fighting the wrong battle. No matter who attempts to encourage us, whether stemming from the inner movement of the self or another, something of the heart retreats to a wanton place when melancholy arrives. It’s where others deem us awol when instead we are traipsing through briars of agent orange, the home of the pow.

I stare at a permission slip for psychedelics and wonder what age children stop playing, and how long before adults realize that meditation is the same thing.

He glances at me and decides he understands my expression, so coddles me with a speech intended to enfold me into the arms of penal inclusion. I look away with knowledge of what it means to be limp and internally smile because I don’t care about semisoft battles.

I care about a stiff upper lip, winning wars, colors called agents, and the kind of prisoner I need to be, to enrage the sun.