Is it called sand because it’s in between the sea and the land?
Do the dead really come back as ghosts?
An argument between vegetarians, is it still called beef?

Silly questions escape my mouth
But as we round the corner back to the courtyard
I can only hear Papa sigh
When we reach our destination
Papa sets me on his lap
But I slap his arm away from our usual storytime book

Papa, what’s being lonely like?
His eyes widen
And he explains it like this

I imagine being lonely is like…
Empty beds and duvet covers in the kitchen
Misplaced glasses and half eaten rice crackers
I imagine being lonely is like…
Talking in your sleep
Being lonely is the cacophony that is drawn on paper
In colors that don’t exist
In the mind of an adult in a 5 year old’s crayons
I imagine being lonely is like…
The stale taste of bread that hasn’t been used in years
Wine that hasn’t sat long enough

I imagine loneliness is like that
But I’ll never know it
I will never make friends with it
And invite it to tea in the manor
Or coffee at Madam Lake’s

And Papa then hugged the air
He always talked to the air
He believed I was the air
And truly, I was
I became the air long ago
I became the air the second I touched the air
I never even had my first breath of air
But Papa’s version of me did
Papa’s version of me “lived”

Papa?
Yes, honey?
I’m lonely
Honey?
Yes, Papa?
You don’t exist.

And he confronted “me”
But only for a few seconds

Is it called sand because it’s in between the sea and the land?
Do the dead really come back as ghosts? DO THEY?
An argument between vegetarians, is it still called beef?

Silly questions escape his mouth
As he talks to the air
As he holds the hand of air
And months later
He was admitted to that old building
That cold building where all the people like him go
The people who talk to themselves

He lied.
He met loneliness and he made friends with it
Not only that, but
He invited it to live
And thrive and sleep in the courtyard
The tiny courtyard in his mind
Where a conversation eternally played
As he rocked back in forth
Unable to move his arms or legs, strapped to a bed

Papa, what’s being lonely like?
Papa?