“What do you pride yourself in being?” the query is posed.
Not warmly, nor kindly.
I restrain my eyes from rolling
As she poises herself with the stance
Of bated breath.
Looking for a writerly profoundness
Or, more likely, hot air, I guessed.
Well, I tell you, I could have gone obvious.
Waved my banner for all to see.
But, thirty-nine years
And I just now fully realized
There is still very little
I say I pride myself on…
I should be sad, I suppose,
Decrying all the deep-seated reasons
For my lack of “esteem”.
But all I can think is to question-
Pride myself on?
Oh, I know it’s to my benefit to
Be my own cheering section
And all that,
But, somehow, I can’t ever seem to
Summon up the pom-poms for myself.
I ‘ve cut the self- pep rallys for decades.
I guess it always just
Sounded arrogant to me somehow…
To say, “Rah, rah” to moi?
Maybe it is just the ol’ lack of parental love
Nagging at my door again.
Maybe it still just feels foreign.
Maybe everyone I ever knew that did
Pump themselves up like that
Was a terrific poser and little more.
Or it could be just the phrasing itself
That gets stuck on the
Roof of my mouth.
Something in my years of study
About how “pride goes before destruction”, perhaps.
After all, those old proverbs still ring home,
Appealing to the (overly) mindful parts of me…
The pieces that beg of me to
So…I do think.
Vast pools of collective ponderings
From which should rise the finest philosophies-
Though I venture her taste is more
Pseudo, suited-up blatherings…
She quirks a brow and frowns a bit impatiently.
As if it should never be hard to toot one’s own horn.
I find myself at first discomfited,
Bouncing to annoyed,
But, finally, landing on a trifle amused.
For I know she doesn’t really want to know.
Not in the sense I could tell her, that is.
Where she is stuck on shallow, star-status stuff,
Making me up to something
I don’t even aspire,
I crave swimming in the deep,
Away from the crowd,
Left to my own desires.
But, she waits, and it seems only fair to reply.
So…at last, with a shrug and a half a smile, I evenly say,
“Being myself. Not much for pride,
Bragging is not how I ride.
But I find nothing so fine
As just being myself.”
And I turn and leave her a little startled,
Just a bit open-mouthed,
But perhaps a little deeper in thought…