My Soul

When I feel like I'm going to fall apart
I hold my ribs, all the way around,
Both sides.
My ribs hold me together,
Like glue.
They keep my breath close to my heartbeat.
They keep my soul from escaping and 
Leaving me, grounded.
I hold brightness and shadows in 
The hollow where my ribs meet.
I hold them there in the memories
Of slow, sorrowful music and
Porch steps.
I hold my ribs, until I feel solid.
Until my legs are tree trunks and 
My fingers are fruit.

From Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems from WritersCorps, introduced by Nikki Giovanni. Copyright © 2003 by Ember Ward. Reprinted by permission of by HarperCollins Children's Books. All rights reserved.