Ready – A Poem from Shekhinah Speaks

from Shekhinah Speaks (selva oscura, 2022)

June 25, 2024

By Joy Ladin

Fear not, I am the one who helps you . . .

Isaiah 41:13


“7 Empowering Life Lessons from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’”
– Emma Dibdin, Cosmopolitan, 3/10/17


Are you ready to be strong?


Are you ready to follow me beyond

the fear that warns you

to hold your tongue


when cruelty and hopelessness,

degradation and evil,

stab you through the heart?


Fear likes you this way,

self-loathing and numb,

believing you’re no one


I’d ever choose,

a worm in a tunnel, dust in a gale,

a nameless pool of blood


I could never love.

I summon them all to judgment,

the fear that stalks you


to the ends of the earth,

the shame and disgrace

that nail you in your place,


everything that gets in the way

of you responding when I say

“Don’t be afraid.”


Don’t be afraid.

I was here before fear

and I’m there beyond it,


opening fountains,

trampling kings underfoot,

calling you to me


across generations

by paths you haven’t walked,

by ways you cannot imagine.


I’m the mother who really sees,

the father who understands

you, every version,


real and imagined, future and past,

cypress and desert, queer fluid light,

thresher of mountains, solitary pine.


You have nothing to fear

and nothing to prove.

Are you ready


to be strong? Time

to remake the world.


* * *

To order Shekhinah Speaks and Joy Ladin’s other works, visit