archives, poetry

We Tell You Lies Because We Love You. {poetry}

I watch my husband’s granddaughters with equal parts hope and fear.

They are fully intact humans, bursting with the truth of themselves.

They will emerge as young women in a post-MeToo society, in which there have been changes, and there will be more. It is glorious, but will it be enough?

Before we stand fully in our power as women, we will be broken. We will be busted by broken dreams, fears and fists. In the saddest of cases, the destroyers will be ourselves.

I am in love with the clueless beauty of my young self. I want to grab her face, slap her, kiss her, love her. I want her to stop being terrified and to inhale life.

In the cool depth of my fourth decade, in my sagging, wise skin, I want to grab each young woman by the face and promise them that all will be well.

I want them to know that the cliché What does not kill us will make us stronger is not only true, but somehow the point.

Some of us will fall a little too hard, but we must rise back up.

We heal, we grow, and we light the path.

We make beautiful daughters and beautiful sons. This is our offering. Our thanks. Our solution.

We build our sons and daughters, we tell them that a beautiful life is theirs to inhabit. We quietly hope that is true.


We tell you lies because we love you
we tell you them sweetly
bundling them up in kindness
we carry the truth awkwardly
buffering a serrated reality
with the small perfection of you

You are the younger of two girls
your spirit a wild shaggy thing
it shakes and asserts itself
each time you enter our home
I love you for it
then think quietly of the ways
this place will whittle you down

We tell you this place is ready for you
that you can lead us, heal us, fly us
we tell you that whatever resides deep within you
can flourish haughtily in the world
we do not mention what it will cost you
we tell you lies
because we love you

We are the women who flank you
we have found the soft, cottony moments
of grace
in a place not designed by us, or for us
We wandered in from the edges
fused the jagged heart places
with woman folk story and song
these things will sustain you

I wish we could teach you martial arts for your soul
It is not for us to forewarn you
but to build you
and build you
and build you
we will tend to your broken pieces
and dance each time you fly
we love you
we tell you lies
because we love you.


Bell Harding is a Rumi-loving painter, late bloomer, and poet from Australia. Her home is a vintage caravan called Lou Lou, which likes to roam but is currently stationed in Fremantle, Western Australia, while she tries her hand at civilian life. Bell has a degree in fine art, and loves to paint barefoot in the dirt. She seeks beauty, wisdom and adventure in the landscape, and looks for the small poetry in daily life. In her expanded moments, Bell loves to paint, cook plant-based food, and write pretty poems with sharp little teeth. You could contact her via Instagram.


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