An onomatopoeic word:
The initial "s" is steeling oneself;
The "t" is defiance of fear;
"Reng" is mental or physical force;
And the "th" as in "So there!"
Strength is movement of muscles: biceps, triceps, deltoid;
A ballet dancer's legs, a construction worker's arms,
A woman balancing a toddler on one hip and on the other a grocery bag;
It is made of frown lines, compressed lips, curled fists, a determined stare...
Strength is measured in buckets of sweat,
Liters of tears held back,
Blood coursing through veins like a river in spate;
It is made of "No, I will not!" and "Yes, I can!"
Sometimes strength is going back
Into the burning building, the sinking ship;
Then forward, ascending, rock by rock
With someone who trusts you clinging to your back.
And also strength is getting up
Out of bed when there's nothing to do,
And no one (anymore)
To do it with.
It is summoning the breath
To blow out the candles on your birthday cake -- your ninety-first
And, on the whole, being glad that it's not too late,
To be strong.