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Illustration: Shari-Anne Gibson

Stephanie Platter: I Will Carry as You Do
Illustration: Shari-Anne Gibson


          I will carry as you burdenless do, my Mother. Carry people as you do. You pray, and I weep. You love me, and you yell, “Stop it! Pull yourself together. This is ridiculous! Stop it,” as I muffle sobs on the other end of the line. Today I let her down, and I wanted to collapse. To run away, like I did as a child, to the fields of rolling wheat that surrounded our first home. Ah, such retreat for the tearful, and such haven for the prayerful. Our roles have never changed, you and I.
          How do you, Mother? How do you carry so many? You exhausted. You uplifted. You my mentor. You my fuel. How do you?
          Curling up beneath the tender stalks, I’d imagine I was wheat. Tan and windswept. Standing tall, with all my bending brothers, our heads swaying back and forth. Feeling sunshine, drinking rain. We’d feel brave to stand in so much wind. We’d fear the coming combines. Would standing make us weary? If we bent to rest, would we break?
          I’d lay there as a little girl and try to be like her, like she who sought Creator first, like she who spoke to God. Then in the field I’d see her, mouthing pensive words, her priestly fingers blessing all the heads of bending wheat. Perhaps she’d pass by me and bless me where I lay. Perhaps she’d hear my cry and know I was afraid. So I freeze, become invisible, and listen to her pray.
          She the calm and dusty legend. She’s familiar with the earth. She folds her hands and kneels into it, smelling deeply as she lowers and exhales. In the breathing there is peace. For she breathes prayer like no one else. Her constant quiet conversation calms the deepening earth.
          I get up from my cheek-stained session. My groaning mere complaint. I’ll call again tomorrow. “You call again today. Okay?” Okay.
          I am still much like that far away wheat. Wheat forgets that it is chaff. Wheat requires crushing, fine and soft before it can be bread. Wheat must long to skip the harvest, to change without the pain. But we must all learn to carry on as you do.
          Amid other weary weepers, with no wheat to rest into. You show me how to pray to One who is sweet refuge. He can hold the weight of all. And He can fill empty bellies with windswept wheat before it is even bread.


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