Three heavy chains cross my chest
winding over sweat and tangled hair
bending me double to the floor.
Selfishness is the most abrasive,
cuts welts into my tired flesh if I move against it,
kneel to put another soul before myself –
or even on the same level.
Cowardice simply clings like wet cloth,
makes me shiver at the thought of stretching.
Those freezing rags wrapped around my bones
are enough to cement me into stillness.
Laziness droops in metal drapery around my ankles,
gathers under my feet and trips me
the moment anything requires a step out of turn.
It’s only skin and blood against twisted metal,
soldered iron that ties not just my limbs
buts runs around my organs, squeezing my lungs.
Must I always be this person?
Can I turn the tides in my veins
to rust down the metal,
to build dams and bridges in my soul
out of sweat and foresight,
of looking back at the plans
our elders placed before us?
Might I be better?
And can I wake each day
and believe it’s worth the strain?