A Little Human (A Rough Draft Poem)

The poem below was prompted by a friend’s status update on Facebook. It’s still in rough draft format, but comments are very welcome.

Baby standing up.


A Little Human

[This is a performance poem. If you're reading it silently to yourself right now,
you're doing it wrong.] 

“Attention world,” she wrote.
“My 10-month-old son stood up by himself last night
for 10 whole seconds.
I couldn’t be more proud.”

It’s a shame that none of us can remember a time in our life
when all we had to do to make our mothers proud was balance
the weight of our pudgy young frame
for a few stammering seconds.

It was easier, then, to feel like being alive was something spectacular.
It was easier when the world recognized how the smallest step
was something tremendous.
How these silly feats—the marching of small, unbalanced feet,
the crawling of our awkward, adorable form—
was wonderful simply because these mimicked movements
made us look like tiny little people,
made us, somehow,
a bit more human.

Sometimes the world stands dumb, failing to recognize us
when the wreck inside us clears enough that we go
back to that place, amidst the strain of our every day,
finding a way

to stand up,
on our own, even when we have to stand against
the onslaught of a world that tells us we are wrong.

to crawl,
even when the weight of our life is pressing down so hard
that all we want is to lie there crying.

to speak,
even when the words are anchors and anvils
jamming in our throats.

to be
a child striving,  learning
to negotiate with the gravity of our world,
and through it all
inch onward,
growing into something more complete,
becoming, in that moment,
a little more