I used to think I was alone
here within myself
alone in my struggle to be
I thought
I ought
to be

But now I find
a multiplicity:
wary orphans
grim guardians
hiders and controllers
appeasers and attackers
parts that shrink
and parts that expand
all locked in a circular dance
of self-reinforcing
protective strategies

all believing in a dangerous world
where deadly arrows of
criticism, blame and failure
fly without warning
and doing their part to
dodge the arrows
or catch them in mid-air
or be so indifferent
that they bounce off
their armadillo armor

Now I see 
each heavy laden part
with sympathetic eyes
I long to gather the little ones 
into maternal arms
to hug their heartache
and rock away the wrongs

to release the protectors
grateful for 
the parts they played
when I was young and frail
I salute their service
with a metal of honor
and grant them permission
to loosen their grasp
and try something new

to refocus my lens
till the arrows I had seen
slicing the night
of a dangerous world
become what they are
just buzzing flies
with hardly any bite

to take the lead
with calm composure
to step

by Celeste Boudreaux, April 2023

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