No.214: Adaptive


Check out my form,
how I twist and contort,
they tell me I’m hardheaded, stubborn 
but I could’ve sworn I was born
a shapeshifter.

I learned about adaptation in biology, 
I didn’t question it.
‘Cause as a kid, I was plucked from one culture to another 
like an experiment, 
some of my people tried to remind me of all the good it did,
like what a rare experience, 
to get shipped like express mail to a foreign continent,
to only realize you were the cargo after 
watching red metal gates thick as bricks and tall as two stories lock 
behind the one who breastfed you — 

I can’t relate to culture shock. I’ve had too many 
rare experiences.
I can’t relate to the privileged preaching on the benefits of positive thinking,
I learned in the darkness where perseverance is,
I turned on the lights and found a thousand arrows in my ribs,
cuts down my legs and lips, 
fire on my back,
banshees screaming in both ears.
I’m not invincible,
but I’m here.
I can’t relate to the Son of Krypton.
I have fears,
that’s why I look more like the Bat,
stoic, violent, and prepared,
I turned the lights back off and made my fears run in terror.

I still bleed,
but now my demons approach me with caution,
they know the LORD God is in the cockpit, 
they size me up,
check out my form,
and see the way I twist and contort and swing back like I was born 
a shapeshifter. 
It makes folk nervous, the way I wear silent pain like a necklace.

I can’t promise to smile as often as everyone else does, no.
But by His grace, I can promise not to die until I bless every one of my demons
with a low blow and a black eye.

I’ve known for a long time
that adapting to the fire 
is the only way I’ll survive.

—No.214: Adaptive

Cover Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash