It’s not the time of suffering that lingers.
Like all animals who fall, wounded,
I acquiesced to the howling lameness
that demanded laying down
my bones and sinew.
And, then, again.
Again. Again. Every step a boobytrap.
But it is incremental, the resurgence of life
juice trembling in my anemic blood.
I watch the black-red iron drip from
pouch to vein and pray for power returned.
It is rarely the shock of the earliest days
that chases me in daylight
or permeates my dreaming.
It is this rolling aftermath of
complications, the coming to, coming back
as mind and soul are prodded to more work.
I peer into the long blue line
of the distance, looking for myself.
The leg that was strong has been hobbled.
Can I recall its nimble sleekness as I danced?
The strength that carried me deep into mountains?
The boldness when making a trail where there was none?
Before the carving out of my own-ness
and replacing that with titanium–as if
I wanted my knee to outlive me.
But if it must be a balancing act,
foot to ground, hand to heart,
it is what I will learn to do. Blast those days before;
this is what I have, what is given.
It’s the present that inhabits me, directs the way;
the deficits, progress, minute degrees of change.
I will seek my body singing.
I will own and praise it.
Take to smooth or rutted trails,
walk off the ache and embrace the views.
I command my knee to bend,
my leg to swing out, up, down.
Imagine myself a whole woman,
a woman welcoming herself,
better than yesterday,
as good as before:
I am still a traveller on a pilgrimmage.
I know how to root out truth and brook no lies.
The bare facts of living here and now set me free.
Yet it is like this: flailing forward
as if through brambles then having to pull back,
then striking out again even as
each blackberry scar softens, fades.
The ones left by the surgeon’s robot
chill me even now: the things that
happen beyond our control.
How was I remade into someone unsure?
Not born afraid but curious.
And so I am going, watch me try to go
unnoticed, not missing a beat.
Just a part of the moment,
a brush of wings into leaves and light.
So there she is/I am, the river’s breath
ribboning my hair, voluptuous flowers
bobbing as I pass, and the leg that is
not my best leg (but begs to be mine entirely)
rising up, stomping through swirling pollen,
that sky as potent and open as God’s Eye,
my body listing, leaning into the bravery
that comes with summer.
This body shimmies, strides, stumbles.
My awkward crooked salvaged leg
is alive at every juncture of the path,
will become more itself right down to the marrow,
and in these gaps between desire, hope and healing.
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