How to Be Strong

You can’t be strong all the time, nor do you need to be. People often feel overwhelmed, even though they don’t show it. Actually, most people don’t feel like they’re in control a lot of the time. But for some reason, everyone goes around thinking that you have to be strong. If everyone would embrace the fact that it’s OK not to be strong, the world would be a much softer and kinder place.

So, if you’re wondering how to be strong, get your head away from the idea that you have to be strong. Because sometimes, it’s not possible. This is a poem about life, this is a poem about how to be strong.

How to Be Strong

I

Rigid back, stoney smile,
Usual attire,
Cracks concealed, 
Pounding pressure,
Workable for decades, though exhausting.
I only drop my armor
when alone,
when tears starts streaming down my face,
eroding the stone.
Occasionally, a warm feather brushing past me, 
crumbles the rock a little.

This is how to be strong:
Stoney face, rigid back,
straight ahead, avoiding pain.

II

Until I discovered
I wasn’t made of stone,
one day, looking in the mirror.
I saw smooth skin and ugly spots,
luscious lips above a double-chin, 
no sign of any perfect marble surface.

Just beneath my skin,
I saw a layer of tears,
destined to burst through,
the salt burrowing its way up and through.

III

What was I to do now?
Go out and resurface my stony smile?
Get scaffolding for my rigid back?
Pacing up and down all night,
I decided to go naked,
lay down my stony smile,
drop my rigid back.
As I stepped outside the door,
the layer of tears pushed through my skin,
washing away the dust left behind by
my rigid back and stoney smile.
I cried.

IV

But the weight was gone,
my back soft,
my skin drenched in warm tears.

I went over to a stranger
wearing a stoney smile and rigid back, 
same layer of tears, too,
and told him my story.
As I spoke, our tears joined,
Washing away his armour,
Both of us only wearing tear-drenched skin
Such was the rush of tears that
it swept many others
right off their feet.

V

And so the tide of tears rose,
washing me gently along,
me, weightless now,
sometimes strong,
sometimes not,
always me,
naked and OK.

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