Published by Sorenlit 11 26 2021
The young woman ahead of me, dressed in a form-fitting trenchcoat and fashionable shoes;
nevertheless could not stand straight; her back hunched under
the weight of a…papoose?
No papoose; but one mimicked; faux backpack lacing.
Her burden heavy textbooks, lessons learned, not assimilated.
Oh, but you will carry a papoose too,
on your back or strapped to your front.
My daughter’s consuming desire for the future bundle-the precious cargo.
I feel it immediately, consumingly.
How do I tell her the carrying cannot end there?
The burden is life-all of your seconds, minutes, hours, days-months-
-years inexorable; ones experienced-ones imagined
-and the ones which can’t be borne.
When you are done carrying baby
[she will talk, crawl, walk, learn, drive, fly!] and just when
you mark and marvel her progress, [it is done!]
Then-you will carry another.
You will carry your mother.
She will fall, she will break, she will suffer and endure.
She will stop talking and only use her eyes.
She will grow tiny and fragile.
You will take her arm-then push her wheelchair.
One day you will not have to push it anymore-she will not need it,
Confined as she is to bed.
And then she is gone.
Light as a feather she is when you hold her, hollowed out, soul and essence vaporized
and as you hold her tight you realize
she will never feel your heart beat again.
You will not realize what you lost until much, much later and
that too cannot end…
Then the cycle will begin again.
Just when you think you cannot bear it, again you will carry.
You will carry life;
a mewling kitten, a rescued plant, a beautiful new baby,
a book of poetry you birthed as surely as your own daughter;
you will realize that what you carried is now inside of you,
carried more lightly yet carried still:
Mother, you are an unending mountain stream,
a ceaseless whispering waterfall of words
and a forest full of lofty thoughts-
nonending doors opened for strangers,
kind smiles for hundreds-even on bad days,
compassion for people worldwide-people
people you do not even know and will never meet.
Now I carry them all; the treasured, light burden
borne royally – all within you.
Mother-my very own Ark of the Covenant,
carrier of all carriers.