Tell me again
To be fearless
Tell me again
To depend on myself
I am yet a child
Still holding her toy by the ear
I am feeling you give me
The hard water slap of advice
Cold on my cheek, formerly warm.
It’ll toughen me up
But I already know
It has wrought the reverse
I am not
A leathered creature of your creation
I am already
Quite changed and mangled.
Suffered and carved expressions from granite
Still you were told, you were a marvel
I was weighted down only with disapprobation
And your searing brand of tough love
Tore me further without support
Gave me greater fears, made me feel alone
In a room full of sound.
You cannot rob a child of their ego before it is formed
Nor nurture one empty handed and pickpocketed
You cannot protect a child by harm
Broken is broken.
We all require, when we start in this world
The unconditional faith of others
In a look, a knowledge, some portion of belief
In the validity of us
Lifted just enough to see over the edge.
Life already begs to steal the best
We cannot survive by being cast into fire before we learn to walk
It doesn’t forge stronger bones
We live as ash, insubstantial invalids
Longing for the strength of kindness.
Before you break a child
Think of them twenty years from now
Grown on thin gruel and scraps
We who stand in the tempest
May appear whole
But in our essence we lack
The varnish of other’s meant to grow us tall
It is in the stained radiance
We find the courage to face the world
Bestowed on us by those meant to protect
The fragile cast of a child.