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Graduation 

a sense of place
etched on her face
erosion from emotion
frozen
as though she'd been wrote on
in that cardboard burrow
where every neuro, every furrow
petrified
traumatized
and cast aside
shuddering through sleepless nights
struggling to win needless fights
with blurry eyes and worry lines
at sixteen going on thirty-nine
leaving all she'd ever known
she had run from home
and set out to roam
so began an odyssey of atrocities
a cacophony of misogyny
until forced progeny at twenty-three
drew scrutiny
from a social service agency
it'd been seven friendless years
of endless fears
depression and tears
addictions, assaults, miscarriages
of justice
no trust, everyone sus
her social worker, nonplussed,
fussed
and said she must
share with, bear with
a therapist
in exchange for a residence
which she did with some hesitance
unsure what was best for her
but in her second trimester
she was determined to better
each and every ancestor
never before had she a lease
on life
in the streets
never tethered, always severed
independent but weathered
and now she spills a lifetime of ills
to a doc with empathy, with skills
about days replete with pills
a blaze and haze to beat back chills
and drink
so she wouldn't have to think
about being on the brink
all this she released
on her unspeaking shrink
listening without a hint of snark
in contrast to the black hearts
who can't see past the track marks
staring, never caring
about the hand she was dealt
to know she still felt
welts from father's belt
that creep
never let him hear you weep
even when the stinging's deep
down to the narrow
between bone and marrow
she made it, though
to forty-one
and is by no means done
through ups and many downs,
smiles and plenty of frowns
she's still standing
demanding
a voice
and the choice
to not be defined by trauma
always a loving mama
having done something right
for today she beams at the sight
of the young woman on stage
not filled with rage
but a sage
wisdom beyond her age
any honest assessment
of the adolescent's commencement
would present contentment
absent any resentment
as she expressed gratitude for her hero
once counted as a zero
she tells mama's story with no spin
like the aspiring historian
that she is
inspiring all those within the gym
to see anew, to be amazed
by the woman being praised
who raised
the valedictorian

Garrett Snedaker

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Garrett Snedaker

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