Beautiful Weakness

Victoria Kern


I linger on the dock in defiance of the daring sun 

as it threatens me with its red reminders. 

An elusive wind triggers a wave of goosebumps.

My uncertain feet explore the wooden board, 

tempted by the promise of cool relief; 

but hesitant, awaiting affirmation. 


In the pocketed sunlight and shadow, I find my reflection:

A captive in the crests and valleys of lapping water. 

Forced to perform her debasing dance, 

Dodging and diving, seeking any escape from her two-dimensional prison. 

She leaps at the greening barrier of the bulkhead, 

but falls again, disappearing in the turbulence before 

finding herself once more in her cell.


My insecurities tumble through my mind, 

like seaglass over sand.

The criticism of others has stolen my color,

Replaced it with dull scratches. 

I find myself diminished and fragile

One more hard landing could shatter me.

Others praise pressure for its refining power,

But I have yet to experience this beauty.

I despise my weakness.


The voice of my grandfather floats down to the water. 

Today he wears a khaki hat stitched with the Pinehurst golf emblem.

Experience carries him from the reliable dock to the platform of the boat, 

The bow bucks with anticipation, 

but he takes the step with ease.

He tacitly spurs the engine to action, then he turns to me. 


He has known me from my youth,

Seen how I have adapted myself to others’ expectations.

How I willingly surrendered my identity to become invisible 

when my true need was to be seen.

His hand, supportive and gentle, extends to help me onto the boat. 

As I allow him to lift my weight, I step into the trust.

Still haunted by the aching ghost of my uncertainty,

But no longer bound by the fear of it.


Once aboard, I assume my favorite position at the frontmost point:

perched on the white and teal leather seat, my legs curled under. 

Fingers gripping the rail, head turned unashamed to face the blinding wind. 

My grandfather captains the vessel across the water, 

Freeing the distorted reflections that had once mocked us from the waves.

The air pulls the moisture from my eyes in the form of tears

but I do not turn away. 


The pound of the wind brings cleansing

Unlike anything I have known.

It wraps around me, pure and encompassing.

It does not deny me its embrace when it finds my imperfections,

And it is constant in its pursuit of me.


My muscles begin to fatigue from the urgency of my position, 

but I do not seek a more comfortable posture.

Turning would direct my attention to the places we have already conquered

and released. 

To live is to keep my eyes trained on the promise before me, 

unfazed by the leaping cries of the temperamental water.


When I am most lost, there I am found.

My weakness exposed, I am fully known.

In my vulnerability, I am made beautiful.

Above me, prisms in the sky transform the sun’s rays,

engulfing me in soft light.