"Out on a Limb" - Ben Elmakias

I can count the down sides,
the shade cut by my friends.
They holler and shriek,
making an escape,
hope to bend around their foes.
Sometimes they fall,
but always I stand by their side.

I root myself in their vines.
I wrap around their thighs,
holding strongest when they cry.
Sometimes the light
makes shifts and falls dark,
so I remind them of the heat,
of the air where we’re kept,
and enjoy the affection of their eyes.

They look up to me
as I place myself in my own hate,
but my fervent desire
to unencumber their lives
and ensure every knight,
even those who don’t rise,
enjoy the tempest of my soul,
that courage I always employ,
that base from which I stand
not on their bodies, but beside.

I look up and see the greats,
presently fresh, thinking,
how they hold crowned seat of skies,
how they relish their position.
Taking in the hate
from those below,
constantly draped, grief stricken,
do they not notice
the fresher, budding stems
which will soon overshadow
their own?

Do they not consider
the supporting faces
which must take their places
for them to stand
emboldened and high?

They must not understand
that they stem from a branch
whose base roots
are in the same barren earth
that their brethren fall to at their end.

The leaves above me fall in autumn first.
The veins within me, dry of summer thirst.
But, pain is greatest rising from below,
the shaded leaves who ache to sit on hearse.

Praying for rain,

-A. Leaf

Ben is a junior here at UW-Madison majoring in Chinese and English. He is also an active member of the UW Flash Fiction staff. This is his first time being published on our website.