Self Afflicted

For Aron Ralston

At first it was the rock
pinning him down.
To rage and chip
at the obstinate thing
was the best he could do.
It took time to work up to the idea
that his own fixed self
would kill him in the end.
Then, just gritted teeth
and a dull blade
to saw through his own
tendon and bone.
Up and out,
leaving behind in its mausoleum
a scrap
once as much him
as the man who climbed to the surface
and lived.

We are each one of us
trapped where we landed
by way of foolish missteps
and a distracted gaze.
It is not the weight of boulders
we swear we can feel
holding us in place.
It is the delineation of a cave
we believe the dwelling place
of our whole.

When we finally concede
that freedom is sweeter
than the precious fragment,
we toughen up
and amputate.

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