I thought the first was hardest,
the sudden change leaving a schism
between the then and the now
which I did not know I would survive.

But the second was harder still,
and I grew sick for loss of sound.
The echoes of old words
haunted my dreams.

The third year I spoke,
I laughed, I danced, and I sang.
They beat me for my defiance,
and left me faint on the floor.

I hated them for the fourth.
All.
Goddamn.
Year.

The fifth year I managed to move again,
my aching body
going through the motions of living
with none of the vigor.

I learned to live again in the sixth.
food felt lush on my tongue,
I grew stronger,
and my body became hale and hearty.

I spent the seventh in stillness,
surrendering my newly mobile limbs
in searching for a nimbler mind
with mute motivation.

I sought balance in the eighth year,
looking for the fine line
where I could be my best
without sacrificing myself.

In my ninth year, I found my heart again,
fallen among the fragments of my faith.
I took it back and welcomed it home,
whole again at last.

My tenth year I waited,
refining lessons learned,
and forging fiercer strength
for the day I would be free.

I spoke again on my eleventh year.
Three simple words:  “Let.  Me.  Out,”
ringing loud and clear –
they set me free.

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