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Like Atlas

Natalie Medina

Mother holds me up like Atlas, settles
her hands along my trenches and mountains.
Her knuckles itch and her wrists throb,
but her hold is steady.
Her torso curls in on itself,
stomach taut with tension
as her thighs stiffen in pain.
The ache in her muscles
are thousands of years old
and have never been soothed.
Slowly, she shifts me to the back
of her shoulders, presses me close
to her head and I can hear her swear
that she knows me like the contours
of her own hunched spine.
Mother persistently cradles me,
worries for my unsteady seas
and quaking land formations.
She exhales healing breaths
into my ozone.
Her knees begin to bend, threatening
to buckle as I grow heavier.
I encourage the shaking in my opposite ends
desperately, so that she may release me,
but she holds me tighter, convinced I
can’t keep myself from falling.