Big Boys Don’t Cry

Colin Hicks

Big Boys Don’t Cry, said Dad
when I fell from the swing,
fell on my head at his feet

Big Boys Don’t Cry, said Mum
when I stumbled into a nest of wasps
and couldn’t outrun the angry horde

Big Boys Don’t Cry, said Dad
when my new bike asserted its own free will
and freewheeled me into the village pond

Big Boys Don’t Cry, said Mum
every time I came home
gashed, or grazed, or bruised,
dripping mud, or blood, or worse
on the kitchen floor

And I really wanted to be a big boy
like my big strong brother and his bigger, stronger friends

So I sniffed back my tears and stopped crying,
and watched as she did what was needed
while I savoured the sweet astringent fragrance of Dettol
and hoped for a heroic-looking bandage
or a multi-coloured bruise to impress my friends

Years went by and I didn’t damage myself so much
didn’t cry so much
didn’t need to be reminded so much
and by my teens I hardly cried at all

Aged fifteen years and one month, I didn’t cry the day Dad died
I thought I was being big and strong
but really I was numb
stunned by the suddenness, the swiftness,
and the sheer bloody unfairness
of the cataclysmic event
that had left a Dad-shaped void in our lives

But a week later
When I looked at the shiny elm coffin
in the back of the shiny Rolls-Royce
reality hit me with a hammer blow
that shattered the fragile wall I had built around my emotions

The real world flooded back in, and that’s when I cried

But soon came a voice
a voice in my head which spoke only to me
it was Dad and he said, Big Boys Don’t Cry

So I sniffed back my tears and stopped crying,
I held Mum’s hand, and my brother’s hand too,
and together we faced the funeral
and the many dark days that followed

Years went by, bringing love, marriage, children
and my feelings came nearer the surface

As I grew up I discovered that
Grown Men Can Cry – And It’s Good That They Do

But that’s another story
and another poem
for another day …

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