Ann Keiffer

I Can’t Handle The Truth

Long ago,
down in the basement of myself,
I started building
a shrine to the TRUTH.
The foundation, I laid in childhood.
Telling the TRUTH was sacrosanct,
what every child should do.
Especially if I’d done something wrong.
I had to tattle–tell–on myself, admit it.
Did you go into Ida Mack’s shack
after they took her away?
Now tell the TRUTH.

Later in childhood,
in my teens and beyond
–the Miss Congeniality years–
I turned toward compulsive pleasing,
protecting other people’s feelings,
being someone too nice to get mad at.
I learned I could shade and shape
without exactly, technically,
But my Miss Congeniality crown
cost me.
I was slow to develop
my individual voice,
had difficulty speaking up,
saying what I thought,
speaking truth to power.
How nice of me…but how crippling.

One day I woke up, a woman
–not a girl–
made of
burnt sugar,
fiery spice,
definitely not everything nice.
Now I told the TRUTH
because that’s what it was:
the TRUTH.
When I had something to say
–look out!–I’d say it.
I swung the broadsword
of my honesty without apology.
I got power and respect
and the job done.
And if someone felt sad or mad,
I got over it.
I was She,
the Ninja of Truth-Telling.

Enshrined in the shrine in my mind
this way,
the TRUTH hardened.
I said what I thought without thinking.
I no longer saw the person in front of me.
I slashed indiscriminately.
I severed a relationship,
lost decorum in respectable forums,
gave bleed-back feedback.
My sword of TRUTH
is sometimes exactly what’s needed,
but it also cuts deeply.
I can’t handle the TRUTH
as I have.
I’ve been too cavalier with it.
Why use a sword when
a butter knife will do?

I need to put this weapon away,
yet keep it at the ready.
So I have given myself the task
of crafting a scabbard,
riveted and strong,
lined with oiled fur,
in which to sheathe
my sword of TRUTH
until the sword is needed.
To guide my decision
to deploy my weapon,
I am carving two words
into the scabbard’s side:
Discernment & Compassion.

Ann Keiffer
August, 2014


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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