Poem: Steel Tofu

by SHIRLEY MAYA TAN

I am sorry if I don’t parade

My shattered sensibilities

Around my neck,

Like a garland of self-pity


For the whole world to see.


I apologise

If I don’t shout in pain

Or cry when I bleed,

It’s not that I am numb

Or profoundly dumb.

If you could see further

Than what meets my eyes

Then you too would know

How there is nothing

Left in me which is

Unscathed.

Though there are scars in abundance,

Tombstones and fathomless despair

Buried deep within me,

They leave no pain,

No tear, or whatever else

Which lies beyond remedy.



And all the wounds

I have gathered to this day

Will be named: FRIENDSHIP

Though their marks

Everlasting,

Bright as a jewel,

I am wiser now

Than ever before.



And may be I can never be

As soft as tofu,

Or demure like a blushing bride,

And that my steel exterior

May seem crude and cold,

The sacred truth is simple,

There is a heart

That beats inside of me.


With every breath,

With each rising passion,

Joyfully,

My heart sings

Finally, 

Just for me.


I still believe in the pursuit of life, love and happiness.

I live in H.O.P.E

Note: In Asian culture, it is said that women should be soft like tofu. When she is soft and gentle, men would fight to protect her. However, not all men fight to protect every woman. There are many who are left to fend for themselves. Thus, she has no choice but to become “Steel Tofu”. Women may become hardened like steel on the exterior, but they never stop feeling and dreaming. So, please do not be fooled or turned off by a woman’s hard exterior. She did not arrive at hardness out of her own free will. If we care to see beyond the ‘steel-ness’, we might find her quiet vulnerability quivering in hopefulness. ~ smt

4 Comments to “Poem: Steel Tofu”

  1. Shirley welcome to poets corner and a lovely poem to start with.

    Don’t forget to use the read more please.

  2. To all who liked my poem, THANK YOU so kindly. I shall be visiting your page too in due time. Thank you and have a wonderful day 🙂

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