After the neighbor’s dogs broke through the fence
And sunk their teeth into her little face and arms,
She told people,
“My skin was healed by serendipity.”

She was six and scarred. She picked up words from her mother’s Bible study.

After her drunken father broke three bloody knuckles against her body,
And then apologized by saying, “I love you this much,” holding out those same hands,
She told people,
“It’s forgiveness that paints my skin.”

She was fourteen, and her father was the one who taught her to also forgive within.

After winter ice showed her a curve in the road and then made her miss
And she flipped over an embankment,
She told people,
“My back brace is merely temporary support for the weight of what’s gloriously unreal.”

She was seventeen, and it took her a year and a half to heal.

After the neighbors left a candle burn and then went to the store,
And after a fire ravaged her apartment complex, bringing down the roof and taking more,
She told people,
“There were many sirens, but I lost nothing of true value.”

She was twenty-two.

After the fright, after the diagnosis, after the cancer made her lie awake
And cry until her tear ducts were dry,
She told people,
“Disease took my breasts but it couldn’t touch my heart.”

She was twenty-nine, and looking for a fresh start.

After she moved to the city to confirm that life was more than broken fences
And two men pulled her into an alleyway to say, “We are here for you on this night,”
She managed to scribble with a shaking hand,
“Goodness seeps out from wounds to right the world.”

She was thirty-four, and inside her she had a new person to build.

After she made the appointment for the abortion and then didn’t go,
And after she carried the baby almost full term,
She cried, but to no one, no one at all.
“ ”

She was thirty-five, and one of the most beautiful people ever to be alive.

[March 28th 2013]