The Shield

by Kali Schafer

In loving memory of Erin Sutton

I was long lost and fallen

From my place in the stars,

With my face in the dirt

Counting my scars.

No sign of the girl

Who hides in the stone,

Frozen there still and crying alone.

Compassion for the masses

My heart pulses and swells,

While I punish myself for the times I have failed.

Reveling in guilt, the shame and displacement.

Remember the smell and the way my blood tasted.

Another shudder in the sleepless night.

Another day to face and fight.

Now I look to the eyes who know my reflection.

The strangers I pass, in my lack of direction.

And my soul begs they lend me their strength.

Every stumble somehow still moves me forward.

Outside isolation, I am not alone.

Let me lift up your burden without a reward,

But to take your pain as my own.

We should stand upright with our hands held together,

A wall of impenetrable hope

To spite them and show them the strength of survival,

A shield mightier than a sword.

When they call for our silence let our voices sing.

Let the message rise and soar.

Daughters and sons, we have not been taken

In vain and forgotten no more.

We can live lives of kindness and give our children a voice.

We can forgive ourselves for not having the choice.

And for those whose limbs could not carry,

For the hearts that have failed to mend,

Let us gather the pieces and fly the flag

With honor and remembrance.

We will not be shamed, or defeated.

Every day a new chance to begin.

If we borrow the triumphs of each other survivor,

We can show them they will never win.