Inches: A Poem About Courage

I left as the only desperate act
of hoped-for courage I could muster,
my face damp with lingering humidity
and root-shaking fear of the unknown.

Texas opened up before me
wide with brown grass and possibility,
as I had imagined often
while I steeled myself to go.

But the trees surprised me.
Short, scrubby, grasping for firmer purchase in hostile soil,
the green of their leaves a sickly pale
but singing skyward nonetheless.

They were live oaks,
but nothing like the verdant, moss-hung
coastal giants I had known,
and held, and left.

I loved them, though,
from the first glimpse.
Their branches reached inside me,
taking hold of who I so hoped to become.

They made me dream of different beauty,
of life fought for,
inch by inch by inch,
naysayers be damned.

They are still the shape I will my soul to take:
Unexpectedly strong, yes,
as I have found myself to be
But brave too, braver than I dare to hope.

In such a world, they tell me,
it takes strength to survive
but courage to grow,
inch by inch by inch.

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