You don’t have to smile

You do not have to please me,
or anyone for that matter,
Save yourself.

You do not have to strive
for a thousand hands clapping
or mouths shouting accolades,
as you stand bowed, heart bound,
the smile plastered on your face
while petals rain down upon you.

You do not have to stay in flight
soaring through the daylight air,
wings spread wide beyond comfort
just so we can point up at you
and feel the swell of pride in knowing you.

If you’d rather crawl
through the midnight mud and muck,
I will be there with you.
Wherever you are, I will stand by you.

You don’t have to smile.

You do not have to dance
as the storm clouds roll over you
if you’d rather join your thunderous roars
to the chorus of the lightning song.
You do not have to search desperately
for the possibility of beauty
in the midst of your suffering.
If all you see is darkness,
I will hold your hand.

You do not have to be good, polite, pure,
or humble
to ensure my fragile pride.
You do not have to be what I see
through my milk clouded eyes
when you see your reflection
clear as the mountain stream.

You do not have to bow down to the fear
of man’s gaze upon you, finding displeasure.
You do not have to please him.
Or me.

You don’t have to smile.

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