Lonnie Hicks

Freshman - 813 Points (www.lonniehicks.com / Chicago Ill)

Carried Water - Poem by Lonnie Hicks

I have carried water in buckets for many,

a bucket that leaked.

I have caught tears

before they fell to dead ground.

I've held hands,

cut my own hand reaching out;

felled those who would harm

and saved many who knew nothing of me;

helped the foolish,

shielded the innocents

and never gave on that it was me,

or even that I cared.

There are, too,

a few I have buried

in the dark ground

turned away and carried on-

because of the needs of living-

who all looked at me-

soon as the first dirt fell

on the casket lid.

I may never die,

that would be letting too many others down;

and I couldn't do that.

My silent face

does not reveal all this

and this is as it should be

I can't step up to demand credit.

That is not like me.

And now I stand at store counters

count my change and my memories

knowing full well that while some know

most don't and never will

nor could they

understand the silent gnawing sacrifice

that much of life

is for many of us:

wives, husbands, grandfathers and grand mothers

yellow photos on the fireplace mantel

yester years' phantoms

who built the very ground the young ones walk on

and yet they don't know.

And I am not the one to tell

because all my auidences,

the ones who might appreciate,

have all gone.

So lonely is the peaceful silence I allow my self

knowing that gratitude in the later years

means you had to have been there

and most now were not there

so it is unreasonable to expect they'd understand

those long agos

when I was young

and, of course, knew everything.

To them I sit in the rocking chair

a fixture on the porch

symbol of a long ago

still here

but soon to be gone.

But no, that is not the way it really is.

I am their own yesterday

which I spent

making sure

they would have a tomorrow

and a silent witness to their Now

which even if unacknowledged

makes me proud.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, August 7, 2010

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