You always joked at your own expense: fat, ugly, high school dropout. We
Never questioned your self-debasement, your children, who would Never
Believe you’d lie, leading us astray, you, who we trusted just had to Know
Everything—you taught us the world, what it looked like and meant. How
Were we, your daughters and son, to foresee despite your chains, how High
You’d soar with crippled vision and mountainous, inherited neglect. We
witnessed the endless dig and grind, dig and grind, as you broke ground. Are
You as proud still, your skin-prick wit gone dry as your withered brain? Till
I stare death down, I’ll imagine the grin, your grip, the rolled diploma, as We,
your fans, stood on folding chairs, hands clapping above our heads. Are
You awake, Mom? A random sound among the quivers and quakes. I Asked
Your skeletal frame this morning, hoping to hear the familiar sharp reply To
An ever-child, “Do I look awake?” Follow your heavenward stares, Mom. Rise.


We Never Know How High We Are
Emily Dickinson

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