Crutches by Nikki Giovanni

it’s not the crutches we decry
it’s the need to move forward
though we haven’t the strength

women aren’t allowed to need
so they develop rituals
since we all know working hands idle
the devil
women aren’t supposed to be strong
so they devlop social smiles
and secret drinking problems
and female lovers whom they never touch
except in dreams

men are supposed to be strong
so they have heart attacks
and develop other women
who don’t know their weaknesses
and hide their fears
behind male lovers
whom they religiously touch
each saturday morning on the basketball court
it’s considered a sign of good health doncha know
that they take such good care
of their bodies

i’m trying to say something about the human condition
maybe i should try again

if you broke an arm or a leg
a crutch would be a sign of courage

people would sign your cast
and you could bravely explain
no it doesn’t hurt- it just itches
but if you develop an itch
there are no salves to cover the area
in need of attention
and for whatever guilt may mean
we would feel guilty for trying
to assuage the discomfort
and even worse for needing the aid

i really want to say something about all of us
am i shouting i want you to hear me

emotional falls always are
the worst
and there are no crutches
to swing back on