The Mountain You Climb

This is what it means to be a woman:

I can climb the mountain you climb.

I can climb the mountain you climb while bleeding—

While cotton catches life force between my legs.


This life drains from me and I sense the caverns inside

Where more life was made and has also left, 

The places that will always be hollow because 

The two children

Skipping along behind us

Were carved out of my body.

These voids ache as the babies’ toes inch

Toward the cliff for a better view,

Shooting pains like

I’m being scooped out all over again.


This is my strength:

To climb the mountain you climb.

While bleeding.

While some of my pieces run freely,

With minds of their own,

Dreams of their own—

Minds and dreams they took from my flesh.


This is what it means to be a mother:

To climb the mountain

While bleeding;

And to let them climb.

Flesh of my flesh,

I am whole only on the outside,

With my pieces alive before my eyes!


I am no longer whole on the inside;

But I can still climb the mountain you climb,

The mountain you climb with a body 

That doesn’t bleed

But gets stronger with age and discipline.


I pass another mother on the trail.

Little pieces of her flesh are running up ahead of her,

Pointing their fingers,

Leading a dog on a leash.

Our eyes meet;

We say nothing.


But she has already climbed the mountain you climb.

I can climb the mountain you climb.

Only she and I know what this means.