Their eyes spoke for them, their eyes and the words they did not say.
I frighten them.
I remind them that they wear no halo, they hold no magic wand, no silver bullets in their pockets, not today.
I step across the threshold, through the door standing ajar.
Everything looks different—the chair stands too straight, the counter sits too high, the lamp lies in shadow.
I step back out, beyond the front porch.
There are eyes everywhere, curious eyes, eyes that ask but that don’t want an answer, eyes that hold a gavel in their depths.
Caverns that I am afraid to walk toward.
Will you close your eyes for a moment?
Will you listen?
I am more than a survivor.
Do you hear the strength in my voice?
My words echo with the conviction of waterfalls.
Are you listening?
Now open your eyes.
See me for who I am, not what I seem.
What I seem is a patch of land broken by the plow of fire.
What I am is a forest.
While the fire passes, once, twice, once again, the forest remains.
My roots are still here.
My heart is still here.
I may not be as tall as I once was, but now I am greener, brighter.
I embrace my new life—my crooked chair, my shorter table.
I step away from the caverns, into the sunshine.