Thursday, January 20, 2005

Mark of Courage

by Zinta Aistars

Dedicated to all at Camp Courageous - those with secret call and those with sweet reply. Camp Courageous is a place of respite and discovery for the disabled in Monticello, Iowa.

(Photo of Lorena Audra Rutens, AmeriCorps volunteer - and my daughter, working with Ruth at the "Tree Climb," where Ruth will be lifted from her wheelchair and up a tree in a harness for the first time in her life... because everyone should know what the world looks like from the top of a tree. June, 2003.)

To speak without words, walk
with limbs of jellied bones, see
through eyes rolling up to search
distant inner skies,
starred with clues,
to another vision, stretching
out its length and width
alongside this untouchable other
in the grasp of all
but you. You alone.

Hand outstretched for another
hand, reaching through
and across that silent wall–
hold on, hold to a world
that reels with color,
mad carousel of spinning
clowns and prancing horses,
plumed and painted
with grinning mouths.

Reality blends with dream,
outlines melting into blurs
of memory and passing time:
Are you in yesterday? Or has time
stopped its dizzying spin
to shuffle in tiny steps
towards the voice that calls
and calls with open arms–
your mother who never grays,
your father who is the child
playing in the garden, piling blocks
into towers that sprout
butterfly wings and fly
away to perch in trees ever
green and dangle there
like forgotten ornaments.

Every day is a holiday.
Every day is a nightmare
waiting at its very edge–
fine cliff line between
your heaven and their hell,
their fear reflected
blinding on your trusting face.
You understand, your heart
on its lacy sleeve knows,
when the laughter wounds,
or when the laughter shines
its healing light
over your stooped shoulders,
warm embrace of one
who out of the cacophony
hears your voice,
your wordless voice,
your secret call,
and sings in sweet reply.

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