Earthen Vessels by Ellen Young

When I take life at a purposeful stride
things get broken: the cheap
wine glass or the crystal strikes
the faucet, a mug loses its handle.
It wasn’t a mugging, wasn’t
a loose carpet caused my broken hip.
Steep trail, view of the sea, a sudden
acquaintance with a very rude rock.

Too surprised to be insulted,
with only one leg to stand on, I was
dependent on the kindness of strangers,
aides who came at my call, nurses
dispensing pills I need not count,
breakfast served me in bed, therapists
who said, “Your work is to rest.”
A novelty, this focus on myself.

Home again, exercises blend
with household tasks. A book
is surprisingly heavy, the big skillet
a challenge to lift. Adaptations
must be made. Then one by one
they are abandoned. Good progress,
good progress: I go back on a trail,
regain my purposeful stride.

Recalling the gifts of care, as I choose
a mug for tea, I must remind myself
of pain, ice packs, unsteady feet, cries
in the corridor, to quell my sense
of loss in being “whole” again,
the center of no one’s attention.

Ellen Roberts Young is a member of the writing community in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She has published two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press, Accidents (2004) and The Map of Longing (2009).  Her first full-length book of poetry is Made and Remade, (WordTech Editions, 2014).  She is co-editor of Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal and blogs intermittently at

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