Twenty years
I swallowed my voice
Put it down near the ground
From feet on up

Twenty years
Wearing that mask
Biting my tongue
Political
Correct

Twenty years
filling up
Ashen despair
tightening
tightening

Thirty years
I swallowed my voice
Trod a safe path
I chose for myself

Thirty years
Living my script
telling my story
Unbelieving me
shouting
from my feet

All my life
I swallowed my voice
My wonder
My love
My hurt
My care

Down to my feet
Down in my legs
Concrete
had nothing on me

Years of swallowing
Twenty
Thirty
Forty
Free only in song
Or on some blank page

My voice never left me
it only forgave
It loved enough
to just keep on speaking
enough to rise up
and choke me awake

Desire to breathe
with a will to speak

“You’re still here” he said
“Loving and laughing
and full of care”

“You’re still here”

Then he sat
Calm and waiting
As my eyes opened

“I’m still here” I said
“Loving and laughing
and full of care”

Forty years
swallowed immersion
breaking the surface
and breathing anew
My voice’s embrace
leaves my feet
for my mouth
out into the world
to land where it may
All this wonder
All
this joy, sadness
and simply just ‘wow!’
all of it
out there
love, laughter and care

“I’m still here,” I say

“I’m still here.”