The Tortoise and the Porcupine

You burst out
And I retract
Sometimes you are too harsh for me
Your wits too spiky
Your words they stab me
Though you are just stretching
Scattering random blows for fun
Nothing really aimed at me
But it makes me fear what you say
When I am not there.
.
I’m a tortoise and you’re a porcupine;
we are strange friends perhaps.
My shell seems stone-like
But I’m so soft beneath
That self-defence is a necessity
All I can do sometimes
Is put distance between me and
The thing that stings –
On this occasion, you.
And you are the opposite:
Prickling at what hurts,
Sharpness taking me by surprise.
.
It’s like
We both taste poison in the water
But whilst I cry it out
You just spit
And I’m hit
In the heart
By the words that you emit.
.
What can I do to love you
When I share my vulnerability
And you unwittingly
Cause me pain?
And how on earth do I tell you
that it hurts?

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