Fish and Statistics, Part II

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I have sweaty palms.
The very thought of shaking hands shakes me to my very core.
I fear interviews, business meetings, new people, old people, family and friends I should be familiar with, should be used to, but when they say I love you, I say Don't touch me.
I back away.
Don’t touch me. Don’t hold me. Mother said not to lean, not to need--
Don’t hold me. Don’t touch me. Don’t love me.
Leave me be.
Leave me be with missing teeth, leave me be with bare feet, leave me be, I pray thee. 
Now, it’s cold and morning, shivering before the rising sun.
Sweaty hands frozen solid, hidden in pockets like solitaire.
Passing those seemingly infinite rose bushes--
That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet--
Would love? 
Love like a knit scarf after you noticed she was never warm.
Love like the same breakfast served every weekend she’s ever known.
Love like letting her smile, forgetting part of her is missing.
Love like yelling and bruises over remote controls, because fighting’s part of life and losing is like practice.
Love like letting your daughter cry all alone for two days, never questioning why. 
Love like letting her jump fences without shoes.
Love like overlooking the scars from having loved and bruises from breathing--
I lack shoes because my feet aren’t afraid to kiss the ground goodnight,
But as for me, my heart and soul live under lock and key, alone.
 
Up until age fifteen I could count the people I’ve told I loved and meant it on one sweaty hand. 
It wasn’t until grandpa died that I began to dabble with the other digits.
Now, it’s cold and mourning, re-meeting old friends and lost relatives,
Begging, pleading for a wink and a high five,
Remember my mother: Miss Five Dollars for a Kiss, to show affection shows weakness and to say you’ve loved is to say you’ve lost so now when I say I love you I mean Don’t leave me.
Hold my sweaty hand. 
Love me. 

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