He Cried (Story)

by | June 4, 2019

I always have more to say to my friend

when I’m not talking to him.

He’s been having a really hard time.


Today was a special case,

an Essex blizzard

scuffing muddy patches up hillsides.


Today he hid his face in my side

so he could cry:

a quiet upheaval in the thick snow.


He pressed his face against me

and I told him                                 ohh.

I told him                                                   I know…


I told him                                                   yeah,


and he cried.

So I tried                                                   Crying is good for you, chemically

and he said he knew that,

and then I felt useless.


What came to mind

were all the least helpful

things I’ve been told whilst crying.

They amount to saying                                 It’s OK to cry,

and I know.

I’ve heard it before,

and it’s true

but that doesn’t help you to do it.


It is late to be teaching that lesson

To somebody trying to swallow his sobs.

That was the best I come up with:             It’s OK to cry…

But I wanted words to cry with him.


How do you help someone let go?

The few times I’ve been able to really sob,

I was trying to explain myself to someone sympathetic;

I was trying to speak and make myself understood,

and the tears snuck up on me.


He leaned against me and my arm was around him.

Out there, loitering in the cold wind,

my armpit turned out to be the warmest place around.

So we stayed that way a long time,

him crying, me holding him.

Seemed like we were rebelling.

I felt defiant

at the blowing snow around us, at anyone

who might be standing in the blizzard, peering

and disapproving.


On a snow day things are different. Special conditions.

The struggle is closer to home and

rules relax. It took that low visibility

for my friend to cry. Blizzard conditions.

He’s been having a really hard time.


Poem by Kei Patrick. Illustration by Léa Gayer de Mena.