Silent “Strength” by Richaundra Thursday

My father says my mother

Bears her pain with little complaint.

He means it as a compliment,

Stoicism still mistaken for strength:

Don’t superheroes always bear

Their burden with graceful mutism?

More laudable for being

Borne alone,

And I wish I could say

I know better than to mistake

Martyrdom for mettle,

Passivity for praiseworthy:

The holiness of holding your tongue,

The sacred silence of the sainted sheep.


We tell ourselves, our kids,

Especially our daughters

How PROUD we are of their meekness,

How it shows their selflessness

When we mean ‘self-lessness.’


Little sisters, baby brothers:

Be loud.

Shriek your pain like banshee-ridden hurricanes,

Stand for your right to bitch and moan

And be heard.

Admission is not defeat;

You gain nothing by compliance.


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