i am drowning and i don’t know how to ask for help and i don’t even know if i want it
how your breath stopped short in your chest
the way the light drained from your eyes, though you knew your cheeks were ablaze
the way your throat tightened as you tried to form an argument that got lost on your tongue.
your eyes never left the floor that day.
you were 13.
you’re 20 now, and i still see the light fade from your eyes when you talk about your interests for “too long,”
apologies littering every other sentence,
words trailing off a cliff you haven’t jumped from in 7 years.
i could listen to you forever, though i know speaking for more than 3 uninterrupted minutes makes you anxious.
all i want you to know is that you deserve to be heard
for 3 minutes
for 10 minutes
for 2 hours
there will be people who cannot handle your grace, your beauty, your wisdom, your heart;
mostly because they can’t handle their own.
but you will never be
and have never been
I promise not to tell you that it’s because they like you.
when the teachers call home to tell me that
you pushed them to the ground after you
I’ll take you out of school early and buy
you your favorite ice cream.
when you get older and the boys
try to touch you when you don’t want to be touched
I’ll look at you like the sun when you come home
with anger in your fists.
they all tell you not to fight fire with fire
but that is only because they are afraid of your flames.
when the boys yell after you like hyenas
you yell back, baby.
I will not teach you to be afraid of your anger
so that you look for it in others.
I will not make you be the better person
because you already are.
you wanna fight ‘em? fight ‘em.
don’t you dare apologize for the fierce love
you have for yourself
and the lengths you go to preserve it.
when the boys try to tell you to soften up
I hope you make them bleed with your edges.
I hope you remember that you are not theirs
that their disappointment in you is not yours.
when the boys come to your door with pretty words and
I hope you show them the anger in yours.
I hope you show them just how strong your mommy
thinks you are.
I hope you show them the animal they can’t always
see in their own reflection.
when the boys come with the intention of hurting you
my advice will always stay the same, my darling:
give ‘em hell.”