twice her share

for nancy on her birthday

bones like roads,
the maps of us;
notched
by
the places we have stood,

where knees have knocked, trembled, given out
kneeled in prayer, risen up;
when in the end,
the kneeling doesn’t always
match the ringing in your chest,

when you stand your ground,
when the wind around you blows
and swirls debris and splinters from
other people’s poorly chosen words
and ideologies,
when others might have bent,

when you stand tall, proud, firm;
when you teach your children
to let strength and justice lead them
there will come a day when the
fulcrum on such a great lever might ache

i keep waiting for the doctor to tell her
that knee pain is a common side-effect of
doing the right thing,
of standing firm for decades in such a gust,
that not all side-effects are bad,

that she made a world
where a daughter
hopes her knees will have the strength to do
half us much

because my mother’s done twice her share

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