I fasten my satchel under a
cloak of ebony night,
a swift wind rising around me,
disturbing the dust
under my feet.
I will not rest this night.
I will lie and wait
for first light.
No, for the promise
of first light.
For there is a road
that needs no light.

I heard the song of
the road
on spring’s bold breath,
carried from far places
by an unknown voice
that echoed with my
hidden spirit.
The voice would whisper
a melody,
a refrain.
But I could not

Needful things
kept me bound.
The origin story,
the way of things,
the tribe.
The common and convenient would comfort me,
lull me to sleep
with songs of safety and peace.

But dreams would come.
I would see my broken body
in defeat
on starless nights,
dressing wounds that would scar me,
keep me awake
with screams of pain and fear.

A time would come when
I did not need dreams
to bend my ear to the utterances.
Or the visions.
Trenches and blackness,
dread and blood,
I would be left for dead.
But I would return,
the heroine,
courageous and true,
And good.

Sleepless nights would find me
mending garments,
gathering provisions,
putting down the few words
I could for the ones I
must leave.

And then, I knew.
The valley could not
hold me.
Only the road.

A streak of indigo light pierces the
blackness where
a savage way stretches ahead.
I stand
at the open door,
my heart quickening.
I fill my nostrils,
my chest,
with the last air
of my motherland
and close
a heavy door behind me.
And on the wind,
it comes to me again.

I turn my ear to the west,
my own voice
(it had always been my voice)
strong and clear now,
in the shadowed valley:

Come away, if you dare.
You will lose all.
It is good.



Editing note: I originally wrote and posted this poem in the 3rd person, but was challenged to re-write it in 1st person after listening to a rare interview with Pulitzer-Prize-Winning poet Mary Oliver. The hope is that putting it in 1st person will bring the essence of the poem closer to you, dear Reader, and help you see your own story in it.

One thought on “The Heroine’s Road

  1. Oh my God I love this so much. So rich! It demands more than one reading!

    Such as:

    “And then, she knew.
    The valley could not
    hold her.
    Only the road.”

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