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Only the steady tick of the wall clock
cracks the silence. A hushed crowd
waits for him, poised like a cat ready
to pounce on his prey, a balance beam,
eyes, fixed ahead. Tick … tick … tick….

He looks so fragile, ashen, thin from
years of illness, hospitalizations, brain
surgery. Challenges in and out of school
since kindergarten, now 14 and better,
more spirited. No one would know his pain.

No one would sense his sorrow, not by
the mountains he scaled like hills. No one
would see a child whose life had snaked
into a spectator of sports and games he
couldn’t play, parties he couldn’t attend.

And now I wait for the moment … his
moment … to shed the darkness and
shine, dauntless as an Olympian seeking
the gold. His muscles flex, he runs and
launches, lands firmly on his hands, body

sword-straight, toes pointed skyward toward
limitless space. The only sound, the clock. He
dismounts and the crowd rises to its feet, applauds
wildly. Joshua smiles. I do, too … through my
tears. A milestone achieved. A life begun anew.


Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland with her husband of 39 years. They have two sons, living in Texas and New York. They fill their empty nest with a foster dog, and four cats, two recently adopted. Following careers in public relations and journalism, Shelly returned to her first love … writing poetry. She also spends her time making cards and memory books and, of course, refereeing animals.

© 2020, Shelly Blankman

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