I love her because she's strong.
She doesn't realize that I see her,
that I watch as her bright smile
slips away in the quiet moments.
I know that she feels beaten
by the simple questions.
The “how are you”s and the
“what did you do this weekend”s
are hurled her way like darts to dodge,
and I watch as they fly by
too close for her comfort.
she turns the dodging into dancing,
and her smile is always fixed firmly on
when I cross her path.
I love her because she treads lightly on the earth.
Her footsteps in the halls are quiet,
leaving no trail, no trace
of the carnage in her head and in her heart
like I thought they would, gathering all around her
like puddles of rain.
The footsteps she leaves in peoples' minds are
and small like a sparrow's;
only a fleeting impression of the girl can be seen
before the wind erases her prints,
too fast for anyone to look deeper
and realize they were in the presence of a warrior.
I love her because she listens.
She sees friends trip
and lends them a shoulder,
she kisses souls and makes them better again,
a makeshift mother among crowds of children
with backyard wounds.
She soaks up others' hurt like a sponge
until she's filled up, too full, overflowing,
but it's her version of a success.
She hears their cries for help
and saves another person from pain.
The only thing she can't seem to hear is the sound of my heart
breaking as I watch her fight every day,
her own soul heavy, to keep her head high.
I love her because she is silent.
She struggles without a sound.
A warrior, yes, but mute in her battles.
She'll never tell what's wrong, never hint,
but her pain will leak out in other ways,
ways like tiny beads of blood
pooling out of scratchs in her pale skin.
Even those she keeps silent, hidden,
and what should be an alarm bell to the world
that she is quietly falling apart
is nothing more than a flash of scabs
and a quick pull of the sleeve,
Above all, though, I love her for the light she brings.
She does all of it for all the world:
her strength, her fragile steps,
her listening, her silence.
She does it so that
when a little boy or little girl
asks her where all her scratches came from,
she can smile that smile of hers
like sunshine between clouds
“I fell in the dark.”