carapace

I think about all of the branches
that my life could have taken
how many loves dropped
and how many opportunities were presented to me
All I had to do was believe that I
was the person they thought I was.
Be the smart, creative, friendly
scientist capable of juggling and doing
and making new knowledge and forging
strong relationships.
All I had to do was not run.
All of these things still lurk inside of me
all of these potentials
that somehow were never fully expressed.
I guess that’s true for everyone to some degree.
That their greatest selves are only exposed
for a limited part of their lives
as if baring those parts would lead to hardening
and desensitization,
scabs or calluses and
any number of unlikely things.
As if showing those parts wouldn’t open
up grand complexities and happiness of human connection
or joy at experiencing an expanding life.
Instead I poke out for a moment of brilliance
instants of confidence and pride and capability
that shrink and close like a poked sea anemone.
safer like that
surer that the inverted stomach
will digest these scraps of
a fuller existence.
Ensuring the extraction of
nutrients to build stronger chitin
a carapace to hold in
a greatness that no one
is allowed to see.