RAISING MY ARM
Okay, Stroke, so you snuck up on me and in a half-second,
you assaulted my body and deranged my life.
Yes, you murdered a piece of my brain...
but not of my soul!
Yes, you stole my freedom
from my left arm, my left hand, my left leg, my left foot—
but I will regain my liberty!
No, my limp arm, my limping leg
will not rely on canes, on walkers, on wheel chairs.
I may hobble. I may stumble. I may even fall...
but I shall walk alone!
And you won't control my mind either!
I won't be stressed. I won't be depressed.
Rather, I will take heart; I will take courage.
Yes, Stroke, I will brace up, buck up, bear up;
I will confront you with my head up!
Through attitude and exercise,
the weakness you forced upon me will be overcome.
Slowly, but absolutely surely,
I will gain back the lost balance in my body and in my life.
This heaviness like iron weights in my hand and in my foot
will be lifted until they once again function.
My toes and my fingers will stop curling up.
They will not retreat into a fetal position.
My fingers will learn to grasp again—
yes, to do up buttons and even bras.
My arm will learn to lift again—
to put away dishes on the highest shelves.
That one small part of my brain that you destroyed
will be replaced by other parts of my miraculous mind.
You tried to force me into utter numbness,
but I will regain all of the sensations of life.
So there, Stroke, my spirit will restore my body.
I will stand alone and raise my arm in victory!
This poem won fourth prize in the 2012 Margaret
Reid Poetry Contest sponsored by Tom Howard Books. Author Janet Ireland Trail received a $250 award. Winning Writers assists this contest. Copyright is reserved to the author.
About Janet Ireland Trail
Janet Ireland Trail spent the first twenty years of her life traveling and observing the world as the daughter of a colonel in the United States Army. For forty years, she taught English, journalism, and creative-writing in high school and college. Along the way, she married and raised two children. Retired now, she writes all genres as well as creates color-pencil art. Among others, her publications have been featured in the Greensboro News and Record, Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Pinesong, Bay Leaves, the Moonshine Review, North Carolina Education, The Little Red Tree 2010 Poetry Book, The Writer’s Journal, and Lucidity Poetry Journal. In 2010, she won second prize and in 2012, first prize in the annual Artists Embassy International Dancing Poetry Contest. She was a poetry finalist in the Salem College International Literary Awards in 2010 and 2011. Her mini-chapbook, Finding a Time to Die, was published by Bear House publishing in 2011.