What we carried

         The Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea,
         the waters forming a wall for them
         on their right and on their left.

                  —Exodus 14.29

No one on the Underground Railroad ever said,
“Go back, I forgot something.”
When we are free
we sit on the far shore, bewildered,
with only what we carried,
and our loves.
And we learn to do that.

The mother makes it through the desert
with nothing but her children,
and is happy.

You stand beside the burned-down house,
the washed-away neighborhood,
and mourn the cost of actually being free.
The grief is real, though the possessions are not.

Sitting there on the shore you give thanks
that though you didn't think to bring your soul,
it came along, in love for you.

Next time the fire comes, or the argument,
you'll know what to grab.
                        

   —September 11, 2017