self-made man

Dedicated to my Grandma, who passed away suddenly last year in Hull Royal Infirmary.

*

You’ve never felt the ground
shifting beneath you.

You’ve never hopped
from one foot to the other,
caught in a desperate dance with death.

You’ve never been floored
on all fours:
your palms grazed,
            still smarting,

from breaking the fall.


You’ve always landed
on your Own Two Feet.

You’re a self-made first-grade top-o-the-range
Man.

*

I, at least, know
That when I am still
It is because I am
Held    by giants –

By the sore-backs gnarled-knees elbow-grease 
of Generations
of Invisible Women:

Their skin so warped it
            Weeps blood.

*
Show me!
Show me your battle scars –
     your signs of struggle.
Show me how you fought
With an infant in each arm;
     your life on your back.

How you swallowed your heart back down
When it shot up your throat.

Show me.

            Remember that time
            when ickle donny was
            SO brave,
            he started off in
            Brooklyn
            with just a
            small loan
            of a
            million
            dollars?
            Poor donny, all alone in that
            Big Wide World of his,
            pushing through that
            “NO!” of a life of his.

It has not been easy for me.
Say it louder!
It has NOT been EASY for me!
Say it again:
The refrain of a lullaby.
Say it again
and again
with your fingers in your ears
and your eyes wide shut.
Scream it till your voice goes hoarse
and your throat runs dry.

Tuck yourself in
to the thick folds of your very own
fairy story.

Sssssssh, you’re safe now:
it’s time to go to sleep.

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