Kate Bernadette Benedict

Holding Up

Listen to Audio Version read by Jill Khoury.

So many things need buttressing—
books, walls,
my elderly neighbor inching down the hallway
with his aluminum walker,
braced also by his burly roommate.
I can't keep my eye from the peephole.

So many things need shoring up—
grape vines, wisteria,
the floppy heads of infants
whose life depends
on the stanchion of the large people's palms.
A colleague broke her neck
on the slopes of Reach Mountain.
Ice, flight, fall—
from inside the metal scaffold they'd pinned her in,
she'd recap the story.

I have fractured no vertebra myself
but years ago my sustaining spirit broke
and never fully mended.
Luckily, even a broken thing has utility
if you glue it and re-glue it and keep it around.
Devotedness is a buttress too.
Daily, through my peephole, I witness it in action
as a buddy holds up a buddy,
guiding him down the hallway,
ushering him home.
The old man weeps, or warps his mouth;
the younger man bears it.
I prop my heavy head on my heavy door
and watch.


Kate Bernadette Benedict lives and writes in Riverdale, a leafy neighborhood in the Bronx, New York. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Here From Away and In Company, and the editor of the erstwhile online poetry journals Umbrella and Tilt-a-Whirl. Visit her on the web at http://www.katebenedict.com.