Bodies and Shoulders, Carry and Bear

We are experts at measuring the distance of fathers

And weighing the lightness of mothers.

When fathers quarter the distance

We clasp our hands in pride

Like seeing a baby walk a few steps

Without the aid of the sofa.

When they halve the distance we parade in the streets

Burden our shoulders with their heaviness

And declare the goodness of men.

Men are good, we dutifully remind ourselves

A necessary magical incantation

To keep civilization in perpetual motion.

“Good men–”

Say it as if your throat is clutching a rosary

Say it to keep the beasts away

And the darkness at bay.

But men ARE good

At least most of them some of the time

And some of them most of the time

Though a few of them none of the time

And none of them all of the time.


Little known fact: Atlas was a woman

A mother, to be precise, so it is assumed

Among those who know.

Only the earth did not rest upon her shoulders

The weight of the world on shoulders–

That’s a man-shaped burden.

No, the earth made contact with every cell of skin

An entire body to bear its endless spin.

But we demanded that any body

That touched the entire earth be light;

Without weight

Without taint

Bodies of light that are light

And God said let there be light

And so came the earth

Held up by light.

But how bodies of light that are light

Can bear mountains and oceans

And cities and wars and darkest night

And every depth and height

And every kind of heaviness and history

And that anonymously?

Unless such bodies are not light

Unless such beings are more and less than bodies

More and less than mothers

But we desire light.

And say with reverence and grave solemnity

Echoing the order of eternity

That, gloriously alone, a sacrifice of gods

Men will shoulder night.

And that’s the story

Of how women became mothers and bodies

And men became fathers and shoulders

Of how men carry

But women bear.

And if heaven is a true reflection

Of earthly versions of love and care

Then how can I not shake and tremble

If I’ve a Mother or Father there.


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