courage in its many forms

Courage - by Anne Sexton 
It is in the small things we see it. 
The child's first step, 
as awesome as an earthquake. 
The first time you rode a bike, 
wallowing up the sidewalk. 
The first spanking when your heart 
went on a journey all alone. 
When they called you crybaby 
or poor or fatty or crazy 
and made you into an alien, 
you drank their acid 
and concealed it.
Later, 
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets 
you did not do it with a banner, 
you did it with only a hat to 
cover your heart. 
You did not fondle the weakness inside you 
though it was there. 
Your courage was a small coal 
that you kept swallowing. 
If your buddy saved you 
and died himself in so doing, 
then his courage was not courage, 
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.
Later, 
if you have endured a great despair, 
then you did it alone, 
getting a transfusion from the fire, 
picking the scabs off your heart, 
then wringing it out like a sock. 
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow, 
you gave it a back rub 
and then you covered it with a blanket 
and after it had slept a while 
it woke to the wings of the roses 
and was transformed.
Later, 
when you face old age and its natural conclusion 
your courage will still be shown in the little ways, 
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen, 
those you love will live in a fever of love, 
and you'll bargain with the calendar 
and at the last moment 
when death opens the back door 
you'll put on your carpet slippers 
and stride out.

6 thoughts on “courage in its many forms

  1. Excellent choice of poetry. “those you love will live in a fever of love, and you’ll bargain with the calendar” — Oh my yes, beautiful. Also particularly beautiful, Bear with yellow umbrella and your meshed hands 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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