Sunday, March 30, 2014

call me point b.

if i should have a daughter, instead of “mom,” she’s going to call me, “point b.”
because that way, she knows that no matter what happens,
at least she can always find her way to me.

& i’m going to paint the solar systems on the backs of her hands, so she has to learn
the entire universe before she can say, “oh, i know that like the back of my hand.”
& she’s going to learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face,
wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach.
but getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs
how much they like the taste of air.

there is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by bandaids or poetry,
so the first time she realizes that wonder woman isn’t coming,
i’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself.
because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers,
your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.
believe me, i’ve tried.

“and baby,” i’ll tell her, “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that.
i know that trick. i’ve done it a million times. you’re just smelling for smoke
so you can follow the trail back to a burning house, so you can find the boy
who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. or else, find the boy
who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him.”
but i know she will anyway, so instead, i’ll always keep an extra supply
of chocolate & rainboots nearby.
because there’s no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix.

okay, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix.
but that’s what the rainboots are for. because rain will wash away everything if you let it.

i want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat.
to look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind.
because that’s the way my mom taught me. that there’ll be days like this,
“there’ll be days like this,” my mama said.
when you open your hands to catch & wind up with only blisters & bruises.
when you step out of the phone booth & try to fly,
& the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape.
when your boots will fill with rain, & you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment,
& those are the very days you have all the more reason to say, “thank you.”
because there’s nothing more beautiful
than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline,
no matter how many times it’s sent away.

you will put the “wind” in “winsome… lose some.”
you will put the “star” in “starting over… & over…”
& no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute,
be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.

& yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, i am pretty damn naive.
but i want her to know that this world is made out of sugar.
it can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out & taste it.

“baby,” i’ll tell her, “remember, your mama is a worrier, & your papa is a warrior,
& you are the girl with small hands & big eyes who never stops asking for more.
remember that good things come in threes, & so do bad things,
& always apologize when you’ve done something wrong.
but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing.
& when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war & hatred under your door
& offer you handouts on street corners of cynicism & defeat,
you tell them that they really
ought to meet your mother.”

sarah kay is a spoken word poet – half-japanese, half-jewish, all new york. & 100% amazing.

this performance was the opener of her talk at the 2011 ted conference.
click here for the whole talk
[it's only about 20 minutes & includes another poem performance.]

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