Poetry Exhibits: the things they didn't tell me

they don’t tell you that holding on means your fingernails break off at the quick, one by one
they don’t tell you that blood will run down your hands while the hurricane still grabs at your feet
they don’t tell you you can hear the baying of the black dog at the top of the cliff
they don’t tell you it’s a completely different set of muscles to hang on as it is to
pull yourself up to the next handhold

but they also don’t tell you that your stamina to get through the hanging-on
pays off in the pull-ups
with your arms and ruined hands screaming
loud enough to drown out the storm
and the snarling

they don’t tell you that surviving is its own reward
and that pain begets glory but it often also begets more pain
and that you are stronger with every day, if only
because you have to be

they don’t tell you that the cliff is always shorter than it seems
and that if you slip off
you can always reach out and grab on and hold on
on your way down.

-Rae Lemke Sprung

 

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