after Mary Oliver
by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
You don’t have to be crushed
under the spokes of your own desire
to be proven worthy enough.
The trophies of your hard work don’t
have to appear so freshly on your body.
Your clothes need not be torn.
Every night, you worry a new bird’s nest
from your hair. Every night, your dreams
grind you under her boot heel.
Your pendulum heart doesn’t need
to swing so hard in either direction.
Nails don’t have to be bitten to the nub.
You have to believe that the ground will
materialize under your feet the moment
you step forward. No one can tell you
if it will be rock gravel, or slick with pain.
No one can travel this road before you do.
It is yours, and it is beautiful because of it.