Rebel in Bloom

by Kathryn Gustafson

There are things that might seem plain
About the box you think I’m in
Because of how I speak quietly
With a softness that could sound like timidity
And the way my questions form, sometimes,
Falling childlike at
the end of lines.

I don’t weigh the measure of my time

Against the world’s rigidities,

But it’s not because I have no fire.
In fact, I have my mother’s complicated ire,
Balanced by
My father’s chess games, admonitions,
And the words of a thousand books
That make a world within my head.

I’ve lived through my childhood horrors,
Met death inside the eyes of others’,
Held hands of people that I love, as they left this life forever.

I fight each day against a mind
That’s knotted as a tangled line
With a heart which has been shattered,
A resilience that is tested, battered.

It’s exhausting to admit:
How much loving people hurts.


(How many times do I remind myself what love is worth?)

So I watch and weigh the fire and the words.
To find the phrases that would win
the wars,
And lose the love.

Power to win.
Or chance to bloom?
A choice that no one would assume,
Is difficult.

But the gentle rebel in me knows.
That where things are burning,
Nothing can grow.