You can’t ask, ‘How are you?’ and accept the answer you receive.
You ask, ‘How are you?’ and watch their face,
Their eyes, their mouth, their body – making sure that they are not sinking,
Aren’t falling, but are still standing and strong
And able to keep their chin up and look you in the eye,
Smile and say, ‘I’m good.’
And if they are flagging and struggling you reach out
And let them lean on your backbone
Gather your own strength and sleep inside your heart
Until they are ready to climb up and face
The world again.