Poem: "How are you?"

My friend Kim likes to ask people "How ARE you?" in a way that few people do: with utterly genuine interest in the real answer. And if someone gives a non-truthful or partial answer that seems forced, she will simply ask again until they share their authentic state.

It's a lovely invitation, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside every time she does it to me so I've started practicing it with other people I care about as well.

So by now I know not to give my friend Kim the bullshit answer, because I know she actually wants to know. 

And this poem is from the first poetry workshop we did together with our friends one perfect Saturday a few weeks ago, and as I started improvising a poem together, I used her loving invitation to honesty as a prompt.

I enjoyed writing it because my goal was simple: put into words how I'm feeling to share with my friends.


How are you?

I'm great!

How are you?

I'm—fine.

How are you?

Scared. Terrified.

Sailing through a storm in a battered wooden raft, with no land in sight.
Thrashing among waves wild and mighty, singing their song of power.
Clutching, white-knuckled, at a twinkling compass urging me due North.
And forging, doggedly, in the direction of a path illumined to no eyes but mine.

How are you?

Free.

The roaring sea around me and this infinite reach of sky make me feel so small, and so absolutely vast.
Free in the way that I can only be with faith unshakeable, steadier than any storm.

How are you?

Grateful. Beyond belief.

How are you?

Singing my song
at last.