Courage VI

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor, nature and water

Things have a way of freezing
Differently. Mountains expose
Their bones, ribs of eruptions past
One over the other, ceasing
Only to fall in line with those
Fault lines Spring hides. Fast
And furious run your rivers
Racing ahead of those wintry blasts
Terrified of stiffening into slivers
That once were ripples, tearing
The smoothness of surface ice. Wearing
The grass that cold crisps into blades
The differently freezing earth brings
No herald of bubbling springs. The thaw,
If it comes, will escape on your breath
A defiance of death, the chill air
Your heart warms. Courage is the air
Your frozen blood sings.

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Courage V

Image may contain: outdoor

(With thanks to Anjan Ray for the astonishing image in which I found this poem)

If the road ahead is
Mottled, splotched in
Sun and shade; if
The helm you wear was
Once a net of steel
That held out even as
You held on; if
The green that greets
You slides back into grey,
Courage can be the dust
In the slanting ray.

But sometimes the peace
Of the branched tree
Shields your progress
Away from fright.
Promising shelter yet
Ceding ground in
An onslaught of
Unilluminating bright.
Sometimes courage
Is the flight of the bird
Startled out of its darkness
Into the indifferent light.

Courage IV

Image may contain: sky, mountain, outdoor and nature

I want to be the rain
That is driven up shields of glass
Against all laws of nature and grief
I want to know that as
I fall from skies shedding legions
Of such as me, over loaded over crowded
Bent on hurtling earthwards, that I
Will rise again, pushed onwards
On wings of air, knowing when
And where, the edge of glass meets
The skies. Not this me
Strapped and seated
Watching the road fly past through
Streaks of water. Strapped
And seated, not
Undefeated.

Courage II (Or: What the Lady M can teach us on Shakespeare’s birthday)

“But screw your courage
To the sticking place”, she said,
And I think of my fear as
Something you can embed –
A small, innocuous wooden peg.
Of my grief as a
Finely tuned thing, a string
Instrument, where each
Memory is stretched
Clear and fixed
At its appointed pitch
Across a body delicately
Calibrated, the mind a sturdy
Soundpost, designated
Survivor, carved with incisions
That each anxiety may breathe
And all, in resonated precision
Hum in its wake
And I take
My fate in my hands
Like a bow on the wing,
And courage is the song
That the strung heart sings.