Fire Escape's 2008 Poetry Second Prize Winner
by J. Javier, El Salvador/USA Age 17
Heavy snoring at night after a long day's work,
you soldier on through the quagmires of life.
Cries of children all day, teenage tantrums at night,
you swim your deep dark oceans,
force painful new strokes into the water,
no man to appreciate your agony,
burden of your beauty.
Arthritic legs from weeks of caring for strange babies,
yet you run through sword sharp fields of elephant grass, unharmed.
Dirty-diapered mornings, dirty-dished nights,
yet you carry our family on your embracing wings,
flying through green-back storms,
no man to understand your struggle,
a selfless burden.
Puffy, red eyes after years of working every day of the week,
yet you guide my hands to the lighted door in life's dark caves.
steps missed at sunrise; sunset meals unprepared,
yet you gallantly dance through burning forests,
avoiding the rain walking in the fire,
no man to respect your virtue,
a mother's burden, your life.