I straighten my back, and shoulder blades
take on a new meaning.
Tension stretches its hands around my neck
and claws my skin at the same time—
like twisted thorns clinging to the seams in my shirt.
I laugh sometimes
that I can’t tell if the creaking is from my bed or my back,
but while people are responding with
“Work on better posture”
or “You’re too young to feel like this,”
I’m nodding my head with the strength of my last coffee.
I either sleep too much or too little,
because it’s easy to slip between distraction and drowning
when you’re used to wearing pain like wooden poles across your back.
But it’s also easy to forget the feeling
when tightness creeps around my shoulders like a snake
and the aching weight goes unnoticed.
I forget I move as well as think,
I forget I have a body—
until my shoulders stiffen with pressuring pain.
I forget that aches exist outside my mind,
and when I think of weakness,
I think isolation, I think numbness.
I don’t think of resting my arms after folding laundry.
When I think of weakness,
I think of a High Priest who is able to sympathize—
but I think exhaustion,
I think temptation.
When I think of His shoulders,
I think of my sin upon them,
but I don’t think of the wooden weight crushing His back.
I don’t think of the tightening.
I don’t think of the aching.
I neglect the humanity
that shows itself in sweating palms and breaking skin.
I forget about the shards of wood
creeping between His shoulder blades.
He knows pain
like the oldest of friends,
and I’ve felt tears ease when I know He shed them too—
but I stretch my arms and wince,
forgetting that every throb is a sense He knows well.
On a good day, my body can’t seem to choose
between tender and tight,
but I forget my Savior chose death in place of me.
On a good day, I can ignore the pain.
I can live despite it.
But I forget how blessed I am
that He didn’t ignore me,
that He gave me life despite me.
The pressure winding around my arms and tightening my shoulders
is nothing more than a shard of life on a broken earth,
and neither are meant to last.
When I stumble into His arms and catch my first breath of real air,
I imagine Him smiling and saying,
“There’s no more pain here. Isn’t it wonderful?”
Cindy Green is a forest-wandering, poetry-scribbling stargazer with messy notebooks and messy thoughts. Despite her love for all of God’s creation, sunflowers and stars in particular have a way of sneaking into both her writing and her heart (but you won’t hear her complaining about it). She is an amateur sword-wielder with a Highland-dancing warrior spirit who also writes letters to the moon and considers the sky her best friend. A focused daydreamer, organized pack rat, and oblivious observer, she is a self-professing ambivert (or a living contradiction) who deeply feels both the beauty and fallen state of the world. Through her words, she hopes to describe the indescribable and form personal connections with people while reflecting a love for her Savior and a passion for everything she touches.