The Many Faces of Fierce


One of my dear friends recently told me to ‘find my fierce’. She laughs and claims that she can still see mine plainly (so I’m really not sure why she won’t just tell me where I left it) but apparently it’s up to me to find it…again. I started with photographs. Photographs of people I love whom I consider to be fierce. Photographs of my family. Photographs of myself. All the while looking. And suddenly I began to see the many faces of fierce; as unique from one another as faces in a single family would be ~ and yet with a common thread that binds them.

On an average Sunday in the country, sitting around the picnic bench under the white oak at the farm, fierce looks something like this in a family photograph:



…the fierce of need is the face of the hungry newborn. Eyebrows whitened with anger. Unapologetic, misshapen mouth that would gnaw your finger clear off with only gums if you fail to pay proper homage to his need.

…the fierce of mothering is laced like a kite string from one generation to the next as they hold him. Grandmother. Great-grandmother. With a wistful, cautious, forward glance over a slightly dipped chin which screams “I will charge if you provoke me.”

…the fierce of determination is the 3 year old with pop-and-lock beads who will not put them down until she has them in a circle. She has too few of them but ‘impossible’ is not something she comprehends. To her there is no geometry or physics; only a keen desire that keeps her gaze occupied as if the rest of the family does not exist.

…while the fierce of creativity shines in the catch light glimmer in her six year old brother’s eyes as he examines his masterpiece - mud dried statuettes formed by the ears of the family Newfoundland atop his filthy head. It’s beautiful. He knows this. Even if nobody else can see it.

…the fierce of industry is the young mother who was wise enough to step away from the newborn; grease splotched and stooped over her ‘57 Chevy in the background, hood popped. Wrench in one hand. Waving her father off with the other with a look that is a hybrid between amused and territorial.

…and the fierce of love is that mother’s father; son of the great-grandmother, husband to the grandmother, grandfather to the other three, at peace as he watches the happy chaos of that lovely Sunday at the farm.

No wonder my friend could see it so plainly as I fiercely looked back at her and sought myself again.

I'm fierce, just not so smart. Apparently, it was never lost it in the first place.