When I say hero, I know what I do not mean:
A horse rider, a loud noise, gallant bastard,
Public servant, honored and seen.
Not the man who leans to snatch
Small child from crocodile’s mouth,
And not the soldier stepping before
A small Iraqi woman to block
The off-throw of an improvised blast.
The hero I call up rises each morning,
To the talk in his head shouting him down,
Crosses wood planks of worn floor
To face a small mirror for the first encounter.
He is older by a day and full of his lists
Of must-does and the-thousand-tasks
Met by a chorus of silence,
He contends with the invisible:
Advance of the virus,
A slight loss of sight greater than yesterday,
A capacity to stand under bright light
Accompanied by no back-fill of strings,
Not one volunteer to listen
To the tedious litany
Except for the plentiful paid ears
In the ubiquitous 50 minute show and tell.
Persistence makes its case for bravery.
Action, absent acknowledgment, adds up
To a sequence of steps taken
Without the comfort of plot or the assurance
Of a receiving line to greet you with a "well done."
See the child then add the years and stand as witness
To a tenacity that sustains him all on his own.
February 4, 2010