More Than an Address

Last month,
my heart beat itself
into my 29th lap at life,
14 years deep
in spilling ink
and I have yet
to address you.

You,
born to islanders for parents
that spoke a dialect of love
so broken,
it could be translated
into abuse
all too easily.

You,
with the mother
that chose to raise daughter
instead of son
for a sum of reasons
I still can’t calculate.

You,
with the austere father
that robbed you of weekends,
summer breaks,
sleep-ins,
and childhood days
to secure a man that knows
he, who cheats himself
from labor today,
saves himself the crumbs
for his daily bread tomorrow.

Last night,
the eyes of the woman I love
inquired for the inventory
to my damage.
Internally,
the barcode of my lashes
pitched a price too high
for my pride to break the bank.

But verbally,
I complied.
My reply:
“I never felt
like I was enough.”

At times,
parental love
felt rationed.
At times,
I envied the island
from whence they came
because the dialect
of the ocean’s love
was all encompassing and
I just wanted to be
loved that way.

How,
in a house with two kids
did I feel like the third option to love?
Why,
did I have to question
if blood was thicker than water?
When,
were you going to inform me
that I was something worth bragging about
well after the party was over,
well after church luncheon?

This,
may not be a confessional
but I needed you to be real with me.
Some twenty odd laps at life
still searching for approval
isn’t the idea formula for sanity,
or the blueprint
for constructing a man’s confidence.
Fourteen years of spilled ink
got me skilled to sink
in someone else’s moccasins,
when I just needed you to show me
how to walk in my own.

I needed to know
what home felt like,
needed to see
that it was more than walls,
more than ceiling.
I needed to know
it was comprised of feeling
more than longing,
of loving and belonging
to something more than an address
I used to call home.

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Letter to My Unborn Daughter 

Dear love of mine,

it has come to my attention
that you’re stealing
the beginnings
of your Mama’s poem,
so let me start by saying this:
You’ll be all
and nothing like her.

Your eyes
will never be baptized
into the pains that she has felt,
when her pupils
dilated to discover her worth
need not be assessed by men
who only want to perform price checks
but are never committed to buy.

I will deluge you with a love
that appreciates your value daily,
so much so
that you will never be bought.
Every man will always be
an honest compliment shy,
a touch of love too short,
an insufficient fund away
to get you to stay.

My dear,
I have no intentions
of giving your hand away,
but I’ve already composed this score
for the occasion.
I pray,
the day that it comes
I will be less of the man I am today
and more of the man
you’ll need me to be.
Lord knows,
I’ve never been in a fight
a day in my life
but I will go to war for you.
I will battle your demons.
I will vanquish your foes.
I will dismantle every man
that desires to treat you as some –
word that I shouldn’t say.

May he respect you
long after he has earned your love.
May he love you
long after he has earned your trust.
May he trust you
as if he’s learned that he must
because
hearts don’t break around here.
My darling,
you won’t break when I’m near.

So call me.
Call me when you need me,
call me when you don’t.
Call me when he forgets your birthday,
you’ll already know that I won’t;
just
call me.

Even though we’ve yet to meet,
at this point in my life
I’ve already loved you more
than any woman I’ve ever met.
I have vowed
to resurrect the best of myself
to give over to you
so you’ll always have faith
in love.

All I’ll need you to do
is breathe easy.
Remember,
that sometimes love will feel
like you’ve been shortchanged;
a part of you
will want to curl into a fist,
you’ll wish
that you’ve never met men.
I’ll wish
that they’ve never met you.

You,
with the dimpled smile
you borrowed from your mother.
You,
my unborn princess
I vow to love like no other.
You,
will always be my sunshine,
my only sunshine.

Consider Me Forgotten

I remember the days when
we’d stroll the sidewalk
hand in hand along the beach;
lazy rays made our shadows
droop behind our heels
long and more reluctant to follow
than we were to leave the sand,
seashells ,
and what you called
“sea drool” on the shore.

You said that you
liked the three-legged silhouette
that tracked us close,
only because it made us one
when every stride of mine
were two of yours.

I remember when
you used to hail the wind
to drift us far,
far from human scars,
the city lights,
the stream of parked cars and
you were a dazzling shot of hypnosis.
I’d look you up under amazing,
beautiful,
breath-taking but
you were never there.

You helped me out of my wheelchair
and into the car;
the drive back was piercing silence
and muffled tear drops.
I could tell,
you missed our shadows
and the rusting metal wheels
would only take me so far,
so far.

I remember you coming to visit
everyday as if you weren’t a wife,
a mother of two
or a teacher of
twenty-seven and a half children.
You
remained at my bedside,
for hours it seemed,
silent.
I wish I could tell you
to “stay strong,”
that this “isn’t thee end,”
some other appeasing cliche
to white-knuckle grip,
that there is life
after survival,
but the fear translated in your eyes
knew no change,
no comfort.

With every passing minute
you became
a conjugation of sadness,
a hint less brighter than upon arrival and
you prayed for a miracle.
I never feared that it wouldn’t come,
only that if it didn’t
you would always remember;
the sea-salt crusted spokes
of my wheelchair,
the expiration of my inspiration
as a ghost of a memory,
remember,
when your strides reached mine,
remember,
when our three-legged silhouette
would baffle the ocean.