Choking on My Clumsy Words

Already, I am intimidated,
people as a rule of thumb are harsh and unforgiving,
so why would I want to be a room full of them?
I’d rather pretend I am someone else,
even something else: an elf, a shadow, a cat.
As my eyes scan the room of half-smiles and cautious curiosity,
I feel my pulse jump to a heightened state.
These are my peers, my colleagues, my challengers,
and they wait to see what I have composed.
Reading poetry out loud has never been easy for me,
because I reside within the comfort of my own mind.
Too often have my words have forsaken my mouth,
and I no longer trust my tongue to convey the matters of my heart.
I need a quill and some ink, maybe some paper, but I would write upon the very rocks
so long as it meant I could avoid speaking out loud.
It’s not that I am shy, and I know it is hard for you to fathom,
but I have been cut down so callously, and I prefer to recoil into my calm.
‘Be brave’ you say, ‘A lion, not a mouse.’
Dear, I am neither of those animals,
but can you realize I am something else?
My quiet is more patient than the sandy beaches, more composed than any stillness of a pond, and more realized than any of your precious lions. I am awake. I am aware of all around me,
and I hear you.
I can’t always find words in the moment, and so it frightens me that you would think me so basic that I could simply begin to speak without thinking.
I am disarmed when you call on me. I require more time. Don’t think that it is a fault of mine, but embrace me.
I am worth so much more than you can even know because I feel it.
So, I will work on response, if you will work on your regard.
Because I believe I will get there.  Believe me, I am trying.

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