Poem: Tougher Than I Look

Tougher Than I Look

A cat’s face, the scientists say
has far too few muscles
to show their feelings.
It is mechanics, not emotion
that makes them look like stone cold psychopaths
as they watch you from the counter.

I on the other hand, have plenty of facial muscles.
Forty two of them, I am told.
I can twist them and turn them
and manipulate them into thousands of expressions,
But mostly I don’t. Feeling came hard to me.
it was an unsafe thing, feeling, when I was young.

My father, who was bullied when he was young,
bullied for his feelings, his emotions,
learned his lesson well, and was determined
to protect me from that same fate
by belittling feelings expressed in any form,
particularly in the moment.
A face without expression became my norm.
Safer. Even if it left me
inscrutable. We will, after all,
do anything to be safe,
even become possum dead.

Yes, I have over come it.
Word piled on word. Learning
at mid life, to over come that fear,
and let the feelings, the colors of my heart
leak out.
Not that it feels any less safe. It does not.
But that I am tougher than I look,
at least most of the time.
And that is enough.

About this poem

I have no idea how I got from cat’s faces to where I ended up.


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