ENDEPT
Sailesh Naidu

For the Strong Ones

you are not stone mountain
or tethered rock

you are not guiding light
or quiet shadow

you are flesh

you are combusting atoms forged in stars
you are water falling to earth

you are here

you are a child

asked to carry
the pain of an alcoholic father
a depressed mother
& brother who just wishes to die

but you are the strong one
and they will tell
you this message
over and over

until it has made knots in your belly

liver too tight so not breath in all the dust
that will never settle
They will never settle

so you move on carrying their burdens
on sleds hitched to your hip
there are no tracks in front of you
only the spaces for your feet to fall

for you are the strong one

you are the strong one
on night buses
on your way home from class
on lonely hospital bedsides
on paychecks sent home
on playing morse code
with parents mistranslated love

you are the strong one

and they will tell yourself
this message over and over again
till you believe in your bones

you are the strong one
you are the strong one
you are the strong one

until the night comes
when it all becomes too much
& your thoughts ask you to end yourself

will you be strong enough to do it
or will you be strong enough to live on

i am living
i am salted earth with tears
i am flesh
i am here
and I am strong

not for all i have done for others
but all the parts of me that have survived

i am strong when i’m fallen can’t get out of bed
i am strong when i’m fallen and can’t leave the house
i am strong fallen choked with tears
i am strong for all the mountains
i have climbed and stumbled and fallen
i am strong when i pick myself back up
and fallen

i am standing
i am flesh
i am here
batterer and bruised
but alive and beautiful

and loved

so for the strong ones

fall

Sailesh Naidu

Sailesh Naidu

Sailesh Naidu

Sailesh Naidu
A poet, performance artist, and comedian based in Berlin, Germany. Born in the United States by way of India, Sailesh’s work delves into the ideas of gender, sexuality, decolonization, and the body.
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