peace hard won

A shout-out to the people of the world whose peace has been hard-won,

Who were not born with a sense that the glass is half-full or any other cheerful platitudes baked into their skin or psyche;

Who have staggered backwards before they could take one clear step forward;

Who have been forced to walk through loss after loss until it started to harden them, and then had to also claw their way out of that hardening;

Who have had to till hard earth with one small seed, doubting all along the way whether or not the growth was happening;

Who have received the phone calls bearing news that no one ever wants to receive;

Who have wondered where their next meal was coming from, their next home, their next friend, their next breath;

Who have grappled with the hard questions of the worth of their own existence.

What I know about you, about everyone who has not given up, is that each breath you take is a victory.

What I know about you, is that each time you have to dig deep into your own reserves to survive, you are excavating something far richer.

What I know about you, is that each time life asks you to stretch it is because your spirit is like a potted plant with roots that have started to press against the edges of its own container, and your will to live, your roots, will break through ceramic clay and spill out onto the sidewalk and into the sun, if that’s what it takes to be free.

What I know about you is that you are living among the rest of us in this strange world with all of its banalities—email and laundry and groceries and this strange need for correctly placed apostrophes and the courtesies of Hello, how are you? and I’m fine, how about you?—and yet you are

a walking poem,
feral and unstructured,
moving to the rhythm of your own punctuation,
unleashed by your pain,
inimitable and more real.

What I know is that you, like all of Us, pray for answers to be handed to you when the pain is at its worst, pray to be saved from it like a mother in labor who is convinced that she has had enough and cannot take any more.

What I know is that the pain is for a purpose, a pithy statement that is both unfair and true all at the same time.

What I know is that you are both the tiller of the soil and also the seedling,
pushing
onward and
upward and
always and
forever

towards the light.