My Hero Forever and Always

Khushi Talluru

Yes, not all heroes wear capes,
but my hero has something just as distinct as one.
 
Some days it’s ten p.m.,
other days it’s eleven p.m.,
and twelve a.m.,
 
The gears of the garage door creak and creak,
as that is to blame for my late-night awakening.
I can hear the wind of the cold night and tiny shrill and shriek
as the entrance door opens.
 
Then the sound of a bag drops,
and keys skidding across the tile floor.
She removes her shoes and places them in a separate box, away from the rest of ours.
The footsteps grow louder now as she approaches the bathroom door, removing the gloves she wore.
 
Sometimes I go back to sleep,
and other days not.
 
Today, however, I rise out of bed,
squinting my eyes as I enter a brightly lit bathroom.
 
“My dear,” the voice calls out loud.
“What are you doing up so late?”
 
I look up and smile at a face not old,
but one that trials and tribulations have had their story told.
There are creases under her eyes and wrinkles of stress around her face,
seemingly uncontrolled.
 
Dry patches and flakes don upon her hand.
Yet the smile still remains.
 
Through days good and bad,
through long shifts,
patients bad and sad,
and many conflicts.
 
There’s still a smile.
There’s always a smile.
 
Even on the day she came home with blood on her scrubs,
from a resistant patient.
She shrugged it off,
and continued to smile, because she’s the greatest.
 
You see, my hero doesn’t fight bad guys at one a.m.
She instead washes her hands after work to the point where they are dried and cracked.
She endures the pain and stress
all to save the lives of her patients.
 
You see, my mom’s a healthcare worker.
And no, she doesn’t wear a cape.
She wears a smile upon her face, which tells the tolls of her day.
 
My hero is my mom,
and all healthcare workers.
Forever and always,
like their never-ending patience,
and forever smiles.

Khushi Talluru is in ninth grade at Lakewood Ranch High School. Her poem “My Hero Forever and Always” won an Honorable Mention in the 2022 Manatee Libraries and 805 Teen Poetry Contest.