I wear the stern face of my ancestors,
the apron-clad Scandinavian matriarchs
who built me from rock and bone.
My husband, my good friends, my family, my colleagues
all affectionately name me "intimidating."
"You're the strong one."
"We'll send you to win the battle."
"They should have known not to cross you."
They name me fighter,
and stand like tin men in legions at my back.
I am obliged to march on;
I cannot remember a time
when my feet have rested.
My banner waves in the northwest wind
and I hold it, dutifully,
fearing its inevitable fall
as my arms shake.
this constant trembling: the
fabric of my
whips and ripples and any
in its course
is blamed on the wind, but
veins shrink - skin
shrivels - muscles
shake - I am no Atlas,
I am a dry sand-castle:
one touch will obliterate me.
I am the brittle leaf on concrete:
one shoe will shred me.
I am dandelion spores on a plain:
one gust will erase me.
In my chest beats the soft heart of my ancestors,
the ruddy-cheeked Scandinavian matriarchs
who built me from soft earth and azaleas.
So name me weakling,
give voice to all of me.
Lift this banner,
and give rest to my weary shoulders.
Hold me in your arms
when I need to collapse.
even a general must be carried by her soldiers.
Title is a play on a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream-- "Though she be but little, she is fierce"