“Strength”

“Venusvine” (1990) Richard Rosenblum — DeCordova Museum Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts

One day
I find a bracelet with a charm that says “Strength.”
It is lying on the ground.
So I pluck it from the dust,
~~~ and I keep it.

For a while,
I feel like I’ve stolen someone’s power —

Kept the sweepings from the barber’s floor
~~~ after Samson has left;
walked behind wounded Achilles,
~~~ mopping up the blood that dripped from his heel;
or pinned to my breast the mistletoe
~~~ that pierced bold beloved Baldur.

For a while,
I walk taller, talk louder,
moving through the world like a storm — 
~~~ seen and heard,
~~~ felt and remembered —

For a while,
until I lose it,
leaving it behind somewhere
~~~ (on a chair, maybe, or a table
~~~ or on the dusty ground).

I go back and search,
but it has left
with as little ceremony as it arrived.

And I tell myself
that it was never mine to begin with — 
~~~ only borrowed strength
~~~ that I plucked from the dust.

Still,
it was nice
while it lasted — 
~~~ to walk tall, like the heroes;
~~~ talk loud, like the gods.

So maybe
~~~ maybe
I won’t stop.

© Lori A. Claxton 2016

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