C. Robert Miller

Nailing bed sheets to the limbs makes our tree house. The boy -- my senior -- swears a body knows how to keep, to stay asleep and safe. It won't toss and fall. Why would it? He points out fine wide beds with his sapling.
But I don't sleep so well. He blames doubt. Even when I fall: doubt. Even when wrapped in a loosed sheet, plunging like a ghost.
Since, I only fail to sleep well in beds. Typically my own. Rarely alone. I keep watch over and interpret others' success stories. Men and women both. Their bodies twist into native alphabets, only a few letters repeating. I had learned their sounds -- their dissonant vowels and hacked consonants -- exhausting them. Vulnerable, they instruct me in literacy. I try to find the word for safe. To glean it from their monologues on doubt. It's one letter long. It is one letter we could share. I know.
I saw the boy -- a man now -- at the grocery store. He fabricates plastic wood -- sheets of it -- to sell to toy companies that make plastic forts and plastic jungle gyms. He looked tired when I spotted him loading groceries into his hatchback. He had enough to feed a family.
"Mother would have killed me if not for your cracked head," he said falling asleep. "It distracted her."
He was distracting me. Tossing words I already knew and had abandoned. Even in his sleep he rattled. His nonsense was still nonsense I understood: dandelions and tigers, agreeable table, who said? fuck who said? I almost missed it. I would have too. I would have missed the word I needed to read if his unshakable body hadn't sweated it through my sheets.
I laid in his stain and slept, well after the man had left.