Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Growing Back



author’s note:

With the release of the movie 127 Hours, I felt I should repost this poem.

127 Hours tells the true story of Aron Ralston, a hiker who had to extricate himself, in the most extreme way imaginable, from a trap that a canyon in Utah had set for him.

But don't we choose such traps so that we can then escape them?

The poem does not refer to Ralston's ordeal.  Hearing about his triumph brought up something for me that I was eventually able to express in a poem.


GROWING BACK

There is the story
of the man
who chewed off his arm
in order to survive.

He found the strength
within himself
to escape
an unavoidable trap.
Heroic, but sad--

he misses that arm.

He can see
people peek
while they struggle
not to stare.

At the silly party
he can’t stop feeling
conspicuous
even when masked
by all those casual drinks.

And then with the women:

if he could just accept his loss
as part of life, he’d drop
a heavy demon--and land
the prettiest gal on the block.

Some women actually
gravitate to him
because of the arm.
But their desire to help
just makes him kick--

how could he ever
find his power
in her two arms?

You see, that missing arm
teaches him so much:

how to shrink
what needs to be small--without
trivializing the pain.  He learns
regret just gets in the way
when you’re trying to do
with one arm
what you once did
with two.

He learns so much,
he even learns
how much
he has learned.

And as a result
of finally adapting
to this loss...

one day,
we look down and find
we’ve grown a new arm.
An even stronger arm.
And longer too--
now he can reach all the way up
and squeeze sweet rainwater
from that dark ripe cloud.

Yes, he knows he must first adjust
to his new found resource

...still, he can’t help but wonder...

could this arm eventually stretch
from one coast to the other--?--

and if so...well...

why should we stop there...?

© 2010, Michael R. Patton
50 Best Poetry Books for Kids

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