If you stop too long,
if you plant your feet too firmly,
you may never be able to unroot yourself.
Keep swinging your arms from side to side.
Don’t look up,
don’t reach up for anything.
Your limbs may never stop growing
up into the heavens,
in the newfound sunlight.
Petals falling down in spirals,
berries smearing under your feet,
staining your shoes with red,
and blue, and purple.
Your lungs clogging with pollen and fear
of not deserving your own roots.
You have suffered so long in this harsh winter
that the gentle warmth of spring will burn your skin,
burn through the rough bark you’ve grown as armor,
through the frostbitten callouses,
down to bone and spirit
heartwood long frozen solid.
Nerves will thaw and reawaken,
screaming in a cacophony of agony,
confusion and grief for all that winter stole from you.
Better not to rouse them.
Better not to risk transforming
into something too beautiful to be left alone.
Hands running through you, taking what they please,
stripping you, uprooting you without a second thought.
Better never to feel the breeze at all,
or the warmth without the burning,
or the hands that may approach you with more care.
Keep your eyes on the path.
Don’t let them wander to the grass.
You might catch a glimpse of those who’ve stopped walking,
who’ve let their roots burrow deep into the earth,
nurtured an inner strength
to last throughout the seasons and the storms.
Better to stay transient,
sheathed in ice,
numb to the wounds
forever open and waiting
for the blood to unfreeze.
Better not to let it spill out,
in case it never clots
and it’s too cold to cauterize.
Better to remain dormant
until your whole being withers.
Better not to bloom.