Poem: For the Love of Scars

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For the Love of Scars

I was never taught as a child
how to take compliments.
Taught yes, how the difference between my best
and the rest, but never, once the work was done,
to accept the kind words of others.

I became better at insults and denigration,
better at fear than fierceness,
better at becoming invisible when the spotlight
of anger was focused bright and hot on me.

I do invisible well.
Always happier being the man behind the curtain
than the actor on the stage,
and yet somehow, like some omnipotent stage mother,
my mother’s lessons of not worrying about comparisons
and merely doing my best
have pushed me outside of myself,
outside of the safe protection
of invisibility,
comfort be damned.

I am not the boy I once was.
Hell, I am not even the man I once was.
The emotions are the same,
the same fears and awkwardness.
That, I am afraid,
will never leave me.

But I have grown both tougher
and more tender.
Better able to take the hate thrown my way,
better able to understand that generally that hate
says more about them than me,
better able to know too that any virtues I possess
also have more to do with others
than me.

I am a shell.
A conduit.
An experiment.
A stew of being enough and not enough,
accountable only to God and myself,
and unable to hide from either.

I have bled.
I have felt the pain
of broken bones and broken hearts.
I have felt battered and bewildered
and lived in darkness.

That darkness will always surround me.
I am resigned to that.
Some things heal.
Some things do not.

So I will bear the scars
not proudly,
but with a certain satisfaction
that those who did their best to shred me
failed, that I am tougher than my blood
or my fear,

and if my scars are frightening to some,
they are beautiful to me,
as are yours, and yours, and yours.

About this poem

Most of us are familiar with the concept of a prose poem – writing a bit of prose in consciously poetic language, but in prose form. This morning I wondered about doing it differently, taking what might have been an essay, and re-forming it as an actual poem. And this is what happened.

Tom

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