Speak … then cower

This is what my body learned

At the hands of chaotic power.

Gently, my fullgrown lungs

lead me 

to see my belly 

to rock its power

to lift my shoulders

and speak my heart.

Oh what courage it is

to breathe the quiver 

of not knowing 

how others will respond.

Oh what skill it takes

to be gripped by death 

in the meeting rooms and phonecalls

where others banter and trade.

Gently, very gently

Terror turns to joy

Each time my cells discover: 

Empathy

is no longer an indefinite ceasefire; 

Compassion

can never again be snatched from my reach; 

Survival

no longer depends

on my obedient silence.

– Naomi Byrnes

Prompt: minimal