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Bright red cardinal, alone in the snow
Like a drop of blood on a cotton handkerchief
The trees are bare, and your friends have gone south
I wonder how you will survive

Scrawny gray squirrel
Your tail is withered and gnashed
The vanquished one in the battle for food
Yet there you stand, looking back at me,
Unafraid, unyielding
You will live

Old man walking in your neighborhood
The houses have changed like the leaves from spring to fall
You walk past people you do not know
Some say “hello”, and others look down, perhaps afraid of their own destiny
A harsh New England wind blows at you and through you until you arrive at the stone path to your home
You push open the door to a cottage where once your wife of forty years waited for you with a hot cup of coffee and a muffin
A wife now taken by some virus that unmercifully spared you

Single mother
They all need you… your boss, your church, your sister, your children
And you have stopped needing because there is no room for your needs
Tears have no purpose
And you know that they need you, but wonder if they want you
your five-year-old climbs up on your lap between you and the keyboard and says
“I love you, Momma.”
And for just a moment you forget the line at the food bank this morning

Young black man walking alone in your all white neighborhood
Your few white friends have all driven home while you simply walk
The police cruiser slows as you approach, prowling, you cannot look through the window
at those who see you
You lower your hood in defiance and let the rain fall upon your head
You bite back your anger for one more day knowing it will not always be like this
Your future is bright

Hispanic man riding the Red Line, sitting next to your abuela
She smiles at you as you tell her in Spanish that you were happy to pay for her medicine
The old white man in the seats across from you scowls
He says nothing but you can read his thoughts
“Learn the language”
He does not know that you attend Harvard Business School, but abuela does
She takes your hand and squeezes it in hers, smiling at the scowling man
And you realize that this woman who never learned how to read
Has much to teach you

Haitian woman who works two jobs
You take care of your family and hold on to the fact that you live in a better place where there are no earthquakes, no dictators, and no crime
except what they pay you to clean their mother when she soils herself, when you make sure she takes her medication, fluff her pillow as she likes it and sing to her to help her forget her pain
You smile because there is more love in your heart than anger

Returned soldier
People understand what you have seen
They will salute you and respect you
Yet only someone who has done what you have done can feel what you feel
Only they know that honor, sacrifice, and gratitude have a different taste to you
How I wish you a healthier world to come home to and a Thanksgiving you deserve

Blind girl
You feel things that others see
You hear them, smell them, and taste them with a richness that sighted people may never know
It is a toss of a coin on any given day as to who will see you as helpless and inferior or braver, and superior but never truly equal
They talk of choice, but you did not choose this
You chose everything else that came from it and thrived

Autistic boy
You never quite get it
It makes you happy when the other children laugh at what you said,
although it was not a joke, and you have no idea how to make one
You learn that when someone says, “that’s just great!”, it does not always mean that,
because you do not understand sarcasm
Your world is more honest than ours
I only hope and pray for kind, patient people in your life,
and that my love of you is like a pilot light that will keep you warm when the world is cold

Young woman
They say you should love boys, but you love her, and she loves you
Their judgments come like powerful waves from afar,
but you stand at the shoreline with self-love and confidence
waiting for what threatens to crash on you to become no more than a gentle
pool that washes between your toes and recedes to where it began with such anger
You will always bravely swim and part of me hopes that my love for you
helped build the confidence in you to do so

Older man writing this message
Many people and things have you lost
Some by choice, some not
You know you are not done but forever changed by what you have lived
and how you will live
This life is neither forever good nor doomed to be bad
But there is something that you carry with you…
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Submitted on March 08, 2021

4:24 min read

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    "Resilience" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 28 Sep. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/63041/resilience>.

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