after all this …

when tears have dried,
adhered, embossed,
etching each streak –

pain, joy, sorrow, grief, relief, release, fear, hope, hopeless,

every crevasse dug, every trench buried, in the minefield of scattered emotions, blurred tremors, whispers, murmuring,

beckoning, reaching out,
cajoling, consoling, offering sustenance, solace,

far far after all of this,

this burdensome shroud, these masks, these tongues,

creasing skin, chiselling out decades, months, moments,

shackled in crutches,

and still, somehow,
the murmur rises,
a cool crescendo swelling,

urging us to stand,
not on bended knee,

but tall –

for we may slip,

yet, still,
we shall rise,

we shall rise,
taller, with each fall.