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,
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
And lose the love.
Power to win.
Or chance to bloom?
A choice that no one would assume,
But the gentle rebel in me knows.
That where things are burning,
Nothing can grow.